Copyright 2018

Setting the scene – what’s changed over the past 5 years?
By Ingrid Lotze APR

There have been so many changes in the ever-evolving public relations landscape over the past couple of years that it warrants a book being written.

  Ingrid Lotze
  Ingrid Lotze APR

The top 5 dominant ones include:

  1. Social media changing the landscape significantly
  2. Mobile communication – communication on the move
  3. Integrated campaigns which call for collaboration and a re-invention of public relations consultancies and their offering, as well as in-house teams partnering
  4. Content creation in all its forms – from digital, video, design, animation and other specialties. Brands are their own producers of content, thus the renewed focus on content amplification – not just getting content out there, but also maximising it with paid support, promotion and repurposing
  5. Measurement of impact of communications on the business. AVE’s are dead.

What is needed from public relations practitioners and communicators in 2016?

The public relations (PR) industry has to stay flexible, on top of the game, relevant and open to change.

The changes keep on coming through technology developments, the growth of citizen journalism, consumer’s demand for socially responsible brands, and the immediacy of access to information. It is an ever–evolving industry and one that is never boring.

It is inevitable that public relations practitioners need to engage with these changes in order to stay relevant and successful.

The top 8 developments to bear in mind:

  1. Real-time communication continues to dominate. The effectiveness of real-time communication that is disseminated quickly, and is based on current events, is paired with increased social media adoption.
  2. Visual content, specifically with educational flavour, will be all the rage.
  3. Corporate governance and stakeholder relations continues to grow in importance in the boardroom. Corporates and government are fully aware that transparent and effective communication with stakeholders is essential for building and maintaining their trust and confidence and that this affects the bottom line.
  4. The battle for a larger slice of the marketing pie continues. There is no questioning the fact that complete, timely, relevant, accurate, honest and accessible information should be provided by the company to its stakeholders, whilst having regard to legal and strategic considerations. The challenge is whether this is done by PR, marketing, the social media team or sometimes even HR.
  5. Measurement of the impact of public relations and communication-related activities on the business bottom line continue to grow in importance. Technology today allows for meaningful measurement of what channels and content are successful to drive the most traffic, engagement, perception change and sales. Corporates and government can monitor real time trends and respond with relevant, timely communication which allows no room for misconceptions.
  6. Mistakes are no longer the end of a relationship, campaign or the world. The advantage of the fast pace of information sharing allows public relations practitioners to make mistakes and fix them quickly and also learn from them.
  7. Fresh ideas and creativity become more important in PR. Whether it is a big idea to capture the hearts and minds of consumers, or high-jacking events to intercept their momentum and leverage a captive audience in a different direction; fresh ideas and creativity will be the key to successful campaigns in 2016. With this creativity comes some minimum requirements:
    1. A move towards real people and away from celebrities
    2. Influence and authenticity “uber alles” (German for above all
    3. PR by design  - purposefully and strategically used instead of as an afterthought
    4. Organic, long play of business beyond the shares and likes towards lasting impact and trust
    5. Business AND impact on people, place and things.
  8. Collaboration will rule the day
    Technology spans all boundaries and allows for creativity and productivity across traditional barriers by people in all corners of the world co-creating and collaborating. The perfect combination of creativity, technology, and relevant purpose can become the way companies stand out in a sea of competition for attention.


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