Looking at the year ahead

Many commentators think that 2016 is the year that press releases will die – we don’t agree. Press releases play a valuable role in getting your news out to the media, but as with most marketing tools, the best format depends on who you are talking to and what your story is. On the whole, press releases are getting shorter and directing the reader to a website for further information – whether this is more copy, images, film, infographics or other engaging content that is relevant to the story and audience. The old adage that a picture tells a thousand words is true – so imagine what you can say with a short video. Videos are one of the most watched items on social media today – videos on Facebook have seen a 75% increase in the past year alone and this is going to grow further during 2016. Facebook is ramping up its video activity in recognition of the growing importance of film and other platforms will follow suit.

In terms of social media, the goal will be delivering traceable, repeatable results that excite the Financial Director while delivering a truly customer focused, social experience. For businesses, the days of free activities are pretty much gone. Facebook is now a pay-to-play channel, with most organic activity being side-lined for paid. Over the coming year, Facebook will be developing new features to encourage us stay with the platform and Twitter is experimenting with new functionality to keep users engaged (see how here). Targeted activity will be the goal for 2016, with focused communications containing highly relevant messages sent to smaller profile groups.

With greater spend, there comes greater focus on ROI and analytics and insight are hot topics for 2016, not just across social media but also the wider PR activity. We’ve come a long way from measuring the success of any PR campaign by the Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) – thank goodness – and can now utilise a series of tracking aids and measurement tools to deliver robust and accurate reporting to demonstrate the profitability and value of these activities.

During 2015, many businesses got a lot better at using social media to engage with their audiences, this will become even more important in the year ahead. As organic reach reduces, developing those relationships directly will become ever more important. All too often marketing objectives aim to push sales at the expense of a truly social presence. Ignoring engagement will become increasingly detrimental to a brand, both from channel owners and audience's loyalty perspective.

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