By Sadie McGuire
The Publicity Club of Chicago (PCC) has been a staple for public relations professionals in the city since 1941. Being around for 71 years, the Club has seen its fair share of trends in the PR industry. Keeping up with the newest innovations, PCC befittingly made social media the topic of its February luncheon.
The PCC event boasted a theme of “Social Media Trends for 2013 That PR Pros Need to Know.” To speak about these trends to the room of students and professionals, the Club assembled a panel of digital and social media experts. Panelists included practitioners from Golin Harris, Orbit Media Studios, Chicago Tribune Media Group, Cision US, Inc., and Molise Public Relations. Moderator Debra Lawrence of Illinois workNet Center, a workforce development resource, directed the conversation.
What to expect for 2013
According to the panel, the secret to successful social media marketing in the upcoming year does not lie in Instagram, Pinterest, or any other platform alone. “I think the trend we’ll be seeing this year is not a platform trend, but a trend of consolidating and figuring out exactly where the audience is,” said Josh Anisfeld, digital director of Golin Harris. Amy Guth, social media manager of the Tribune Media Group, agreed. “There is definitely going to be a focus on consolidation and streamlining. The goal is going to be determining how to display wonderful content wonderfully,” said Guth.
With this advice, current and future PR professionals can expect to focus on making social media sites organized and coherent. This ensures that consumers can easily find the information they are seeking.
Creating organized and coherent messages can be accomplished with what Andy Crestodina, co-founder of Orbit Media Studios, called responsive web design. “Sites that are active on social level are also the most active on a mobile level,” said Crestodina. “Responsive design allows for a site to re-format to the device it’s activated on—computer, tablets, or phones. Brands that use this will increase their accessibility to consumers.”
Crisis and social media
In addition to trends, the panel discussed how social media has impacted crisis communications. “Consumers are beginning to expect rapid, direct responses from companies,” said Michelle Molise, principal of Molise PR. Since social media allows audiences to communicate directly with companies, a timely response has become the expectation.
“Success is based in response time,” said Guth. In correspondence to this response time, “The success of crisis communications is in the length of the crisis,” said Ansfield. “The ultimate question is: Are you making it worse by fanning the flames?”
The amount of transparency that companies have with their audiences is what makes using social media strategically in times of crisis so crucial. As Lawrence observed, “Crisis communication, digital, and social media have all become combined.”
Out of all the information gleaned at the PCC luncheon, what was most valuable was hearing industry insight straight from the insiders. With trends constantly emerging, staying on top of what’s ahead is essential to success in PR.
Sadie McGuire is a junior PR/advertising major at DePaul University.