If I could see the future, last year I’d have bet on the New York Giants over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. But I didn’t. Still, the fact I can’t predict the future hasn’t stopped me from attempting to forecast what may be in store for us in 2013.
I’ll start with the low-hanging fruit. The economy’s going to struggle in the first quarter, at least. Justin Bieber will continue to reign as the nation’s leading teeny bopper, and there’s a very good chance the Pittsburgh Pirates will suffer another losing season.
Now here’s what may be in store for us when it comes to PR issues in 2013:
· Social media will continue to dominate and puzzle the PR industry, as it continues to try to contain this multifaceted monster. So far, social media has followed a life of its own, and the PR industry, advertising and the Web professions have all tried to find the best ways to manage it for their clients and organizations. It’s proven difficult to manage. Social media crises and viral YouTube videos are as likely to originate from a teenager’s bedroom as a news room.
· Facebook will continue to struggle to make money off of its own creations, and to do so it will continue to breach the boundaries of privacy. The battle will be between the individual and “Big Data.” Eventually Big Data will win, but it cannot be assumed Facebook will be around to reap the rewards. While the company will probably do pretty well in 2013, I think for the first time it will start to see stagnant membership.
· Twitter will continue to grow since it has not gotten bogged down in the pressures of public company life, and because it has not unilaterally taken its members’ privacy for granted.
· The “social media guru” will lose his/her luster. Organizations will still need people to manage their social media presence, but the novelty is wearing off. At the same time, managers are becoming more personally familiar with social media as avid users, and so are not as intimidated by it. They will need social media specialists, but organizations are less likely to repeat the mistake of letting social media technicians set online and larger communications policies.
· The press release will survive. Many like to predict that the press release is dead. They point to Twitter posts and social media activity as replacing the press release as a means to disseminate breaking news. But we have seen errant social media posts get many into trouble. At the end of the day, a vetted, official document in the form of a press release is still the best way to disclose important, “official” developments.
· More daily newspapers will be shuttered. Some will close for good, while others will transition to an online-only format. More newsroom staffs will be cut. Many veteran reporters will try to make the transition into PR.
· There will be an increase in pay-for-premium content on the Web, much like the model the Wall Street Journal follows. If you want full and complete access, it will come with a price. Otherwise elite news organizations will not be able to pay their people.
· The media environment will grow more polarized. Some traditional media that always presented itself as neutral or objective will be forced, for business reasons, to openly take sides on the stories they cover. News consumers now choose what they see or read based on their pre-existing worldview. News organizations know this and some will have to go for broke.
· PR people will be more valuable to their clients, companies and the media. The reasons are simple: newsroom staffs are shrinking, they need outside help; the media landscape is as broad and diverse as ever, and companies need professionals to help them navigate it; and because of the economy, it’s more important than ever for companies to have their messages delivered and noticed.
Those are some of my predictions. If you have any thoughts, feel free to send them to me. Meanwhile, have a Happy New Year!