So what do you think are the key trends that will shape earned media in 2018? Are they likely to be technologically-driven? Or are the most significant changes going to be cultural ones that are a response to the ever evolving world of news media?
Gorkana asked a series of experts for their predictions for 2018 and came up with four major trends, two tech and two cultural, that it believes anyone in earned media needs to be following. Among the experts who peered into their virtual crystal balls for Gorkana was our very own MD Sara Collinge.
Sara thinks that it will be technology that has the biggest impact on earned media and in particular the growing use of Artificial Intelligence. Gleaning and collating data is now highly important, and this is where Artificial Intelligence is likely to have the biggest impact.
“Current applications of AI are primarily in crunching huge amounts of data to glean insights and distributing content. It’s easy to see how analysing huge amounts of data in a short period of time can help PRs get ahead of a reputational issue or to understand what audiences are talking about or interested in at any given time.”
It isn’t all about machines though. Humans need to get to grips with interpreting data, highlighting trends and working out how AI-driven predictions and insight can turn into strategy and tactics.
Sara predicts “We’ll start to see more agencies and brands trialling new machine-led tools in 2018, but their use is still at an early stage and there’s much more development to come.”
Other comms roles for AI
How else then might agencies and brands experiment with PR in the future? Well by analysing this data agencies will be able to create content that is optimised to suit the readers they are targeting. On a basic level this could change the way that press releases are issued with companies able to interpret the data and then make decisions about the best type of content and platform to use as well as the best time to issue the release. Automated content creation systems could even start writing basic press releases. Many media companies, including the likes of Associated Press. are already using bots to create content for them at a very low level. Essentially anything based on large amounts of data can be turned by AI systems into content and this is already happening with sports scores financial results etc. There is a big opportunity too in the development of video personalised for individuals or groups.
AI could also prove to be an early warning system for brands too with data alerting them to potential social media crises. They will then be able to much faster to counter any negative surge of sentiment in social media and optimise their content to address the issues that are being discussed there.
Finally AI could also be used to promote brands thought paid for media. The process is likely to become much simpler as AI systems analyse the performance of the ads and then optimise them on the fly to acheive their targets.
Measurement and video
The article also believes that there will be a correction in marketing as more brands start to favour earned media over paid media. Technology will help fuel a revolution in measurement that will enable this to happen.
The article also predicts a huge year for video content, especially given the large number of platforms – from VR through to live social video – that are available to brands.
Finally Gorkana also thinks that 2018 could be the year that brands are forced to jump off the fence and take sides on social issues. This is a trend that has been evolving throughout 2017 with brands like Lyft (in a positive way) and Pepsi (in a cack-handed way) both engaging with customers on political issues. There is likely to be a lot of examples of brands taking sides, and in some instances taking risks, in the coming months.
You can download the full report here.