Convergence: It’s the future

Convergence: It’s the future

Written by Rob Smith

It’s 2015 – the year Marty McFly visited in the iconic 80s film Back to the Future Part II. Exactly 30 years on from the release of the first movie in that franchise, hover boards and flying cars may not be in existence.

However, other predictions from the films, such as multiple TV channels, the invention of handheld tablet computers and the obsession with personal electronics, are all a reality today. Indeed, we’ve become immersed in a multi-channel world where we are able to access information quickly from a plethora of devices.

As time goes on, the walls between different types of media, paid (advertising), earned (PR and social) and owned (content) continue to erode. Indeed, whether it’s an ad, blog post or a social media update, the overall goal for advertisers, marketers and journalists alike, is to achieve consumer interest and engagement.

This is because at the core of all of this is good quality content, which is why the principle of “content marketing” has come to the foreground in recent years.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, there’s always an opportunity to tell a better brand story to a larger audience. And who better to craft these messages than the expert communicators of this world – PR professionals?

With this in mind, here are some key trends businesses and PR consultants should keep an eye on in 2015:

The 24-hour newsroom

Social media has enabled ordinary people to access real-time updates, photos and videos as soon as a news story breaks. Whether these have been validated or not is a separate issue – but what brands need to learn from this is that people have short attention spans and want access to interesting, relevant content now.

It’s vital, therefore, that businesses learn to adopt the thinking of a 24-hour newsroom in 2015. When a story breaks that is relevant to the brand, it’s important to be flexible, adaptable and quick to post interesting content that is likely to be read and shared widely online.

‘Brand journalists’

Although it’s vital to embrace the thinking of a 24-hour newsroom, it’s equally important to ensure all published content is accurate and engaging, and that sales messages are not pushed too hard.

Brandscaping author Andrew Davis said that, in 2015, PR professionals need to think of themselves as ‘brand journalists’ and they need to focus on creating ‘content brands’, rather than branded content. By thinking like journalists, PR professionals will focus on telling a good story, rather than promoting brands.

It’s precisely this sort of content that is likely to appeal to the public, and therefore, receive multiple shares.

Paid social media

According to a study by Duke University, paid for content on social media outlets represents nine per cent of marketing budgets and is expected to increase to more than 13 per cent over the next 12 months.

Despite this, nearly half of those questioned in the study said they haven’t been able to demonstrate the impact of social media spending on their business at all.

Although critics might say that this proves spending on social media is a waste of money, the findings actually show that the sector is evolving rapidly and that companies are merely struggling to keep up with new developments.

Commentators widely agree more tools will become available that can effectively measure social media impact in 2015.

In conclusion, 2015 will be a year in which the worlds of PR, social media and content marketing continue to converge, with the overall goal of positioning brands and businesses as thought leaders and authorities in their fields. Whether we’ll witness the invention of the hover board this year is yet to be seen…

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