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The Future of PR

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Posted: 01/02/2016 Written by: Annabelle Rennie

In the news last week we heard that children under the age of 16 are spending more time online than watching TV for the first time.

The study, which was carried out by research firm Childwise, found that children now spend an average of 3 hours a day online compared to 2.1 hours watching TV. Much of the research focused on the overwhelming popularity of YouTube ‘vloggers’ such as internet sensation Zoella, whose millions of followers are made up largely of children in the 11-12 year old age bracket.

 

But what does this change of behaviour mean for the future of PR?

 

Over the last decade we’ve already witnessed how PR has adapted to an increasingly online world. PR professionals are uniquely positioned to advise on all aspects of brand building and reputation management. We can provide the helicopter view, advise on strategy and create the all-important messages and content for the marketing mix. The PR who simply writes press releases, organise press calls and liaises with the media is a thing of the past. Today the modern PR professional is multi-skilled; developing and running social media campaigns, creating video content and optimising content for websites amongst other tasks.

 

People born between the mid 1990’s to the early 2000’s (dubbed Generation Z), who have grown up in today’s digital world have a much shorter attention span than their parents. In fact, a Microsoft study found that the attention span of humans fell from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8 seconds in 2015 and this is likely to decrease further over time. However, the same study also found that people are becoming better at multitasking, dividing their attention between numerous media platforms simultaneously.

 

PR professionals looking to target Generation Z (who account for a quarter of the UK population) have a challenging job to create campaigns that will grab this audience’s fractured attention across multiple channels.

 

With Generation Z being the most socially savvy and spending a lot of their time online, PR plans will increasingly include blogger outreach and targeting of online influencers, so research and analysis will be an important skill in the PR toolbox. YouTubers, bloggers and even Instagrammers have become the new ‘celebrities’ and one recommendation from them can be hugely beneficial for a company or brand.

 

Overall it is clear that we live in an increasingly online world and it is likely that the next generation will see another step change in how media is consumed. As PR professionals we must be adaptable and stay relevant and it’s an exciting ride.

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