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16 for ’16: the PRCA’s sixteen recommendations for great communications in 2016

Posted by Chris King on 29th January 2016

Yesterday I attended the PRCA’s ‘2016: The Year of…’ conference in London where the great minds of the UK PR fraternity came together to discuss the events and trends that are likely to have a major impact on the industry over the coming 12 months.

The conference’s agenda was dominated by a very interesting debate around the PRCA’s recently launched 16 for ’16 list of sixteen recommendations for great communications in 2016. A list crowdsourced from senior PRCA members, its PR Council and Board of Management.

I’ll spare you the details of all sixteen, particularly as some of them don’t really apply in the technology PR space, but the full blog post can be found on the PRCA website if you’re interested.

It was pleasing to see that the general consensus in the room seemed to be that by far the most pertinent of all the recommendations is the need for agencies to offer tighter integration of PESO (paid, owned, earned, shared). This is something Wildfire has been evolving into its service proposition for some time so it’s always nice to get the industry’s validation that we’re ahead of the curve.

Some of the other insights that either resonated with me and/or present some interesting opportunities in the year ahead included:

Brands and the media move closer together – brands and media companies continue to integrate, creating ever more meaningful audiences and content. Expect to see more brands buying media companies and creative branded content collaborations with TV channels and publishers

Creativity at speed – spot opportunities to respond to real-time events and use them intelligently on social media to resonate with a target audience in a matter of minutes

Relinquish control over content – campaigns will have to live and breathe on third party channels so its time to say goodbye to clumsy calls to action or forced visits to external websites

Embrace video – with the growth in engagement via smartphones comes an increased focus on real-time, short-form, visual communication

Social purpose – knowing your brand’s true social purpose will be the only way to present a reliable positive image based on human truths, avoid accusations of inconsistency and prevent the say/do gap

Ad blockers – the advent of these advert killers provides just another reason why engaging content and the ability to have conversations will play a more important role in the communications mix in 2016

To wrap up, there was a short debate about the changing skillset that PR people need in the modern age. There is a real feeling by one panelist that the days when journalists could easily switch sides and walk straight into a senior comms role are increasingly behind us. The job spec for a PR person has now gone massively beyond media relations.

One of the other arguments put forward in the debate was that whilst today’s PR people still need to be creative there will be a growing requirement for us to be data analysts, in order to maintain our ability to generate insightful, valuable content, and in terms of taking campaign measurement to the next level.

I was also interested in one attendees’ perspective that as individuals we shouldn’t just rely on training on the job anymore and should take every opportunity we can to upskill ourselves.

All in all, a very reassuring event. Certainly a lot of food for thought and it’s clear the PR industry in general is feeling very positive and confident about the enhanced leading role we can plan in the wider marketing / comms mix.

Watch this space for more details of Wildfire’s evolving service proposition as the year unfolds.

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Chris King

Chris’s extensive experience of agency PR, ‘can-do’ attitude and track record for achieving outstanding results time after time make him a firm favourite amongst clients. His natural teaching skills make him an expert mentor and respected MD.