It’s that time of year again: as 2019 comes to a close, we’re all staring into that crystal ball, wondering what the future holds for public relations in 2020. I asked our worldwide PR affiliates from the Public Relations Global Network for their ideas. Here’s a smattering of what’s in store for PR. Happy new year!

“In this election year for the US, brands will increasingly be judged by their stances on hot-button issues like candidate donations, gun control, free speech, racial and gender equity and immigration. There will be more online and physical protests – on campuses, in the workplace and by consumers. As a result, crisis communicators will be working harder to both pre-identify and plan for such crises, and to manage reputational and bottom-line risks when protests occur.” – Sandy Lish, The Castle Group, Boston

“I think that the time of the digital (online) media may diminish, because people now read the news and opinion directly on Twitter. There will be fewer press releases and PR pros will need to use more social media instruments to interact with our publics.” – Valentina Giacaman, RumboCierto, Santiago de Chile

“In 2020, the PR agency business model will keep changing from a mostly retainer-based to a more project-based model. Similar to advertisers, we will have to think more and more in campaigns rather than in traditional corporate communications structures.” – Robert Bauer, accelent, Vienna

“With the growing upsurge of fake news, economic crisis and climate change disasters, crisis preparedness services, crisis management and media training will be in strong demand.” – Boh Tiong Yap, Mileage Communications, Singapore

“Public relations is the driver of online reputation management services. We will continue to see substantial growth at the modern PR agencies as a result of this.” – Aaron Blank, The Fearey Group, Seattle

“Continuation of a trend we have been seeing for a couple years – true public relations where engagement, authenticity and honesty are the measures of successful communications and marketing strategies.” – David Wills, Media Profile, Toronto

“The public at large is becoming more sophisticated about what’s true – and what’s not – especially on social media platforms such as Facebook. With the US election approaching, citizens are wary and less likely to believe what they read on social media. PR professionals will therefore need to play a greater role in guiding clients and organizations to embrace critical thinking.” – David Landis, Landis Communications Inc., San Francisco

“In 2020, building brands and companies’ reputations as a relationship will be more crucial as brands are no more just an idea, but an experience. Hence, relationship management will play a bigger role in communications for two reasons. First, the growing importance of data (collection, monetization, targeting, etc.) begets a crisis of trust that only “PR” approaches can help overcome. Then, in order to escape from the GAFA (Gang of 4 tech companies) supremacy, more and more brands will put their bet on the relational dimension, based on affinity. Brands will need to reclaim the relationship with their customers, that being their only condition for survival. The good news is that PR professionals are the unrivaled experts in the art of the relationship!” – Stephane Billiet, The We Agency, Paris

“Communications will need to be further customized for specific age-group platforms such as Instagram and Tik Tok. Agencies that understand that and deliver outstanding results for their clients will continue to thrive.” – Scott Hanson, HMA Public Relations, Phoenix

“As the average age group for many agency owners increases, we will see more mergers and acquisitions of PR Agencies in 2020. Journalists are already writing about the upcoming surplus of home sales due to baby boomers selling their homes. We will continue to see it more and more in our industry over the next 10 years.” – C.L. Conroy, The Conroy Martinez Group, Miami

“Whether owned, earned or paid: the individual channels grow together, the interfaces become larger and communication must take place at all levels. Those who combine the individual sub-areas of communication under a common content strategy will be able to use the viral possibilities for themselves.” – Uwe Schmidt, Industrie-Contact, Hamburg

“In 2020, the biggest trend in PR will be connecting people through shared experiences – not just engaging them behind a screen. Successful brands will create authentic moments that outlast a social post or media article.” – Amanda Hill, Three Box Strategic Communications, Dallas

“Trust is the foundation of sustainable businesses and is more vital to brand survival than it’s ever been. To successfully build trust with the public, relevant and authentic stories are vital. I can predict, therefore that storytelling will play an even more important role in inspiring, building community and connecting people to the causes they care about.” – Alessandra Malvermi, Sound PR, Milan

“I expect 2020 to be the year when brands and corporations will move towards seeking agencies that can deliver work that showcases the quality of a specialist while at the same time offer a holistic strategy to reflect the crowded, cluttered and borderless digital marketplace. This presents a great opportunity for mid-size and niche PR firms to strengthen their position and win in the marketplace.” -Andy See Teong Leng, Perspective Strategies, Kuala Lumpur

“2020 will be the year that governments worldwide will attempt to legislate the role that social media companies play in the dissemination of fake news. Reputable PR firms have functioned as “guardians of the truth” for years. 2020 may be the year that social platforms like Facebook are compelled to join us in communicating truthfully and ethically.” – Anne Buchanan, Buchanan Public Relations, Philadelphia

“PR has been overtaking digital for years. PR agencies have hired digital experts and merged with web agencies. But in 2020, the PR industry will question: is what we have been doing right? The power of media, power of stories and our communication skills need to be re-evaluated. Paid media and running social media: are they where we PR professionals should focus? PR professionals and our clients together will determine where PR agencies should put our strengths.” – Judy Kuramata, Integrate Communications, Tokyo

 

So, there you have it: some of the best PR professionals’ predictions for the coming year. Let’s check back next December and see how we did. Here’s to 2020!

David Landis
David Landis
President and CEO, Landis Communications Inc. (LCI)
David Landis is President and CEO of San Francisco-based Landis Communications Inc. (LCI), named America's #1 Small PR Firm by Ragan's Ace Awards. With more than 30 years experience in public relations, brand management, digital strategies, social media, positioning, marketing, content marketing, analyst relations, media training, crisis communications, public affairs and community relations, David Landis has lent his expertise to a variety of U.S. and Bay Area-based corporations. These include: financial institutions, real estate businesses, consumer technology businesses, insurance companies, hospitality and travel-related businesses, retailers, consumer businesses, food/wine clients, entertainment businesses, educational institutions, technology companies, broadcasters, fashion businesses, media, cultural institutions, sports organizations and non-profit organizations. Among the prestigious clients Mr. Landis has counseled over the years are: UCSF, Stanford Children’s Hospital, Walmart, California Bank & Trust, Match.com, MetLife, Emirates Airline, Whole Foods Market, NBC Universal, Old Navy, Sony, Cold Stone Creamery, eBates, Port of San Francisco, Tiffany & Co., Pottery Barn, California Society of Anesthesiologists, Planned Parenthood, Stanford University, San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, Bravo, Hilton Hotels, Gap, Levi Strauss & Co., Xerox, AAA, AT&T, Harry & David, PIER 39, San Francisco Symphony, Save the Redwoods League, KPIX-TV (San Francisco), KCBS-TV (Los Angeles), Examiner Bay to Breakers and more. Currently, Mr. Landis is a member of the Forbes San Francisco Business Council. For three years, Mr. Landis taught public relations in the MBA program at San Francisco’s Golden Gate University. A recipient of numerous awards, Mr. Landis is a published writer and has been a featured speaker at numerous industry conferences, as well as a guest lecturer at Stanford University, the University of California-Berkeley, University of San Francisco and Golden Gate University. Prior to launching LCI, Mr. Landis served as PR/Community Relations Director for KPIX TV, the San Francisco CBS affiliate. While there, he was part of a team that won the station two national Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award. Before his work in television, Mr. Landis was PR Director of the San Francisco Symphony, where he helped open San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall. In his volunteer capacities, Mr. Landis serves on the advisory boards of Project Open Hand (serving meals to people with life threatening diseases) and ODC, San Francisco’s modern dance company, theatre and school. He also serves on the Marketing Committees of the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Ballet. Like every other PR professional, Mr. Landis studied piano in college (at Northwestern University in Chicago) and his first jobs included teaching piano to neighborhood children (at the ripe old age of 12). Mr. Landis lives in San Francisco with his husband, Sean Dowdall (General Manager at LCI) and in his spare time enjoys music, theatre, travel, hiking, skiing, hanging out with his dogs Gaston & Alphonse and partaking in the culinary delights of San Francisco. David Landis’ best celebrity meeting ever? The one and only Stephen Sondheim.

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