6 Media Trends for PR Pros in 2016

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Keeping up with the media and media trends can sometimes feel like a full-time job in and of itself. But here are a few key trends to look for as PR pros plan and implement their 2016 campaigns.

Andrew Blum
Andrew Blum

Social Media and Apps
Expect social media and apps to continue as a key driver in the communications field. Even 90-year-olds have smart phones now, so this trend isn't going anywhere anytime soon. If someone has an idea for an untapped market, expect a social media channel or an app to be created to fill the void and plenty of people to use them.

Traditional News Media Isn't Dead Yet
Even though in some quarters, social media seems to have usurped the news media, expect newspapers (and their web sites), and radio and TV to continue having an impact. Ignore them at your own PR peril. Your client still wants to be in the media. Also, expect to see the media continue to experiment with pay walls and online subscription models as they need new revenue sources. Figure that into your PR budget.

Online Video Morphing
Video continues to be a big driver online. Expect new ways to have video out there with more demand for it. At the same time, video all the time can be a drain for an outlet, or trying to make a print web site a big video player can be difficult. Just look at the Huffington Post, which is ending its Huff Po Live, or the New York Times, which has had to revamp its video staff. Expect more changes in the video mix this year.

Consolidation and Sales of Media Outlets
Major media chains will continue to look for ways to wring profits out of their print and TV properties with spinoffs and sales of outlets. Meanwhile, more print editions will cut back on frequency or increase their online presence. You will also see more consolidation of media jobs: the reporter you deal with may also now be an editor and a video producer.

Content Marketing/Native Advertising
Along with social media and apps, content marketing will continue to be a "new" media flavor. With the media, PR and advertising agencies and companies in this space now, content marketing will have to be an arrow in everyone's PR quiver. The Federal Trade Commission's recent announcement on what native ads should look like won't slow this phenomenon down, even though the FTC can still go after offenders.

Major Stories to Keep on the PR Radar
Major stories will always have an impact on your PR plans. This year, keep in mind the following stories:

  • The 2016 election. Stories on the presidential race – especially Donald Trump – will dominate news cycles, so plan accordingly. And remember the key primary election dates starting in February.
  • Plunging oil prices. You can expect this to continue as a big business story, especially in major energy regions.
  • The California drought and worldwide climate change. Both will continue as major stories and each offers a chance to pitch experts.
  • Worldwide volatility in the stock market. This may well continue to be an even bigger story than $40-a-barrel oil since it has many other contributing factors.
  • ISIS and terrorism. We can expect terrorist attacks and the fight against ISIS to use up as much air time as just about anything, even Trump.

These are just some of the 2016 media trends to look for in the PR business. There can certainly be others. As they say in newsrooms, things tend to happen in multiples and three makes a trend. So watch out for them and act or react as needed.

Andrew Blum is a PR consultant and media trainer and principal of AJB Communications. He has directed PR for professional services and financial services firms, NGOs, agencies and other clients. As a PR executive, and formerly as a journalist, he has been involved on both sides of the media aisle in some of the most media intensive crises of the past 25 years. Contact him at ablum@ajbcomms.com or follow him on Twitter: @ajbcomms