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Trust Getting Bogged Down in the Shifting Sands of Digital PR

Trust in digital ROI has dipped below traditional PR ROI for the first time in six years

The Digital PR and Communications Report 2018 has just been released in UK by Ginger Comms in association with the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA).


Now in its 6th year, the latest report was based on a 2018 survey of 384 #PR agencies and inhouse communications units working in sectors such as business services, finance, banking, technology, telecoms, charities, NGOs, and government.


The 2018 report found that in 57% of client companies PR & #Comms departments and agencies are now taking clear ownership of #digital and social media content (as opposed to marketing, technology or HR departments). This is good news for the PR profession. It makes sense to let story tellers with a good grasp of messaging take the lead in digital.


Some 83% of companies said that “driving awareness” was why the engaged on social.

Lack of staff was cited by 49% of companies as a reason for not using social followed by lack of time (45%). Only 30% complained about a lack of budget.


The main areas where brands spend digital budget are paid social media activity (55%), web design and build (51%), and video content (49%).


Where there have been financial cuts, the axe has fallen on #blogger outreach (-9%), social influencer outreach (-12%), text-based content (-11%) and imaged based content (-10%).


The survey also found that the spread of digital services that PR companies offer clients is even: press release distribution (12%), online media relations (12%), and paid social media activity (12%).


In both inhouse and external PR agencies by far the most popular platforms are Twitter followed by LinkedIn and Facebook. Instagram is in the 2nd tier. Snapchat and Pinterest are declining and marginal 3rd tier platforms – according to the survey’s respondents.


When it comes to education, training and insights, PR professionals turn to expert blogs, external training courses plus conferences and events. All rate highly.


Respondents identified a need for more education on social #influencer outreach (39%), creating social network strategy (24%), monitoring and listening to customers (24%).

They also identified a need for better training on new areas such as augmented & virtual reality (39%), chatbots (27%), and SEO (26%).


Commenting on the findings at the #PRCA event in Edinburgh on 8 November, panellists noted that it was the first time that confidence in digital ROI had dipped below that of traditional PR since the survey was launched.


Belief in the power of big influencer bloggers seems to have dipped too. There is, however, more confidence in specialist micro influencers who have a smaller but more specialist audience.


It also seems that the days of the ‘jack of all trades’ in digital are numbered. The panellists agreed that digital increasingly needs specialists.


Also, trust can evaporate quickly. The moment that consumers realise that something on social is paid for, the impact of the message declines.


The speakers tipped their hat to Asia which they said still has a ‘first adopter’ reputation. They cited the rise of What’s App in Asia and the clear trend to voice-activated text.


There was good news for LinkedIn. Panellists said it was on the rise and very good for thought leadership and lead generation. LinkedIn is now a user-friendly platform for video. Although you pay more per click and work harder to get over the line, LinkedIn often gets good results, especially for new business.


Looking to the future, one digital panellist predicted that Augmented Reality would boom when there was one killer app that made using it easy.


He said the breakthrough could happen at any moment.


So, if you were thinking digital is already dominating your life and that of your kids, put your augmented reality mask on. Things are going to become even more 'out there'

on the shifting sands of digital PR.




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