Digital PR Trends For 2016 As Predicted By PR Experts

Experts from the Indian PR industry believe Digital PR will continue to grow at an unmatched pace in 2016 as traditional PR will be pushed further back

2015 has been the uprising year of Digital PR with brands and celebrities endorsing online platforms from communication to promotions. However, like digital this field is yet to get mass acceptance but surely one can’t commit the mistake of missing it.

“Digital PR has grown in unprecedented ways over the last few years and 2015 was no exception. 2015 was the year when companies spent most of their marketing and communication budgets on social and digital media, with marketing teams reducing their advertising budgets towards content creation for digital media,” said Dilip Cherian, Image Guru, Perfect Relations.

Further he added, “Digital PR has now become an extremely niche and specialized field, it is a must have as a part of business and marcom strategy and in the next few years will be adopted by 100% of brands.”

However, digital is still largely social and to some extent search and display. “Brands still focus heavily on traditional outlets including print and tv, both for paid and earned media,” informed Amith Prabhu, Founding Dean, SCoRe.

Read: What other Indian PR experts had to say about the growth of Digital PR in 2015.

But will the positive trend continue for Digital PR in 2016, thereby pushing traditional PR further behind? To understand better Lighthouse Insights spoke with a few interesting minds of the industry. Listed here are the edited excerpts from the email conversation:

Paarul Chand, Editor, PRmoment India

Three clear trends for digital PR in 2016, with content and reputation building topping the list.

When you use the Opera browser, the way its asks for a rating is very cute, with sad faces if you opt out of rating. This is all content and is a massive opportunity for Digital PR. PR excels at content which does not have the look and feel of an advertisement and they could potentially create anything from interactions with an App to the idea behind the wonderfully entertaining “Creep Qawali” by AIB for ‘Truly Madly’.

This is where the budgets are  flowing as well, as marketing digital budgets cut down on traditional advertising  For PR to get ahead in the content game, it has to make serious investments in talent and content management tools so that the best way to tell a story, specially a video story, across digital media is available. Done right, content can be a multi –million-dollar opportunity for Digital PR.

Secondly, FB Messenger is potentially the biggest place for brands to reach out and sell to customers. KLM Airlines has already signed up with FB for interacting and selling to the customer. China’s Wechat is already ahead in the game with this kind of customer management. While Indian brands are yet to do this in a substantial way with FB, again this is an area where digital PR can excel at.

Thirdly, companies in the hospitality (hotels and restaurants specially), are now beginning to empower PR professionals to handle the ‘angry Indian customer’ on social media. This kind of online CRM management is new to PR, but again with their skills for conversation and persuasion, are best suited for this role-provided they are empowered to take a call.

Radhika Nihalani, Co-Founder/CEO, Think Ink Communications

PR in 2016 won’t be able cooperate in a silo anymore. Multidisciplinary skill sets will be the need of the hour. Digital PR professionals will move towards becoming ‘design thinkers’. As we move ahead in 2016, the written word and spoken word will need motion; a company’s brand will be affected by all the ways in which it is portrayed, expressed and explained.

Dilip Cherian, Image Guru, Perfect Relations

Video has been the buzz word of 2015 and will become even bigger in 2016. It is set to surpass text and images as the most pushed form of content across all Social platforms. Facebook is currently testing videos in place of profile pictures and profile videos will soon be a commonality.

Digital PR will continue to grow at an unmatched pace as traditional PR will be pushed further back. One instance to support this is the way Press Releases are being done- with video embedding options. Visual, exciting and engaging content will continue to rule, however the way it is produced, consumed and pushed will change.

50% of all content in 2015 was promoted. This trend will only go up and organic visibility and following will see a drop. 2016 will likely see more communications firms strengthening their digital capabilities and we’ll perhaps see more specialized firms emerging in this area. As always, when there is a profusion of competitive service providers, we are likely to see some shake-outs in 2016 also.

Amith Prabhu, Founding Dean, SCoRe

In 2016, Mobile will gain even more traction. Apps and videos on mobile will play a greater role in storytelling. Middle India will witness a mobile first revolution in a much bigger way than the major metros.