Top Digital Marketing & PR Trends For 2019

Planning to focus on boosting your PR and Digital Marketing strategy this year, but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place! We’ve come up with the top five PR trends for 2019 to help you make some fail-safe resolutions for the year ahead.

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The shift from personalization to individualization​

Adding “Hey Suzy,” to the heading of your email and recommending a book she’s already read is not going to impress her.

Personalizing emails and sharing content based on personas is now becoming an old school. We’re moving towards a new era in which, to be effective, marketers will have to know exactly what Suzy wants, even before she does.

Last year 94% of marketers were focused on improving their data and analytics capabilities, personalization technologies and customer profile data management. Improving customer experience will be one of the top priorities for decision-makers in 2019 according to a Forrester Consulting study. At the same time, 2018 was the year of data protection.

Ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke out, people have become more concerned than ever about how companies are using their data. In the US a survey by Pew Research found that about half of social media users were not at all or not too confident their data was in safe hands. In fact, 91% agreed or strongly agreed that people have lost control over how their personal information is collected and used by entities.

In the EU, businesses were scrambling until the last minute to get their practices in line with the new GDPR regulation. The blanket data protection rules are now the strongest in the world, greatly limiting companies’ data collection practices and protecting the personal information of EU citizens from being shared.

The growing realization of how personal data can be twisted and misused has expanded globally. Edelman’s 2018 Global Trust Barometer found that 71% of respondents want brands to safeguard their personal data and 70% want them to curb the spread of fake news.

This means that in 2019 marketers will need to both win back trust and rethink the way they collect and use data.

Dark social, the next frontier

While concern over user protection really got the conversation rolling, as a society we were already moving away from our once overzealous need to share every detail about our personal lives publicly. According to Buzzsumo’s 2018 Content Trends Report, social sharing has been cut in half since 2015.

Where have all the cat videos gone? Not to worry, RadiumOne found that, while social sharing has gone down, dark social shares have increased from 69% in 2014 to 84% in 2018 globally. Dark social includes all interactions that are difficult for marketers to track such as shares via messaging apps, Facebook groups, Slack channels, Meetup pages, chatbots and even customer service tools like Intercom.

Smart marketers are leveraging the rise of dark social to identify, join and create groups about their niche. Others are going one step further by engaging in direct conversations with people, successfully moving from personalized to a more individualized marketing approach.

Brands become more vocal and encompassing​

Sharing high-quality content has always been a prerequisite to good marketing practice. To make individualization work we’ll need to go even deeper.

Brands aren’t just about their products anymore. A large majority of millennials believe that businesses have the potential to solve society’s economic, social and environmental challenges (three-quarters of millennials and Gen Z workers according to Deloitte). Meanwhile, Kantar Consulting’s Purpose 2020 Report found purpose-driven brands have increased their valuation by 175% over the past 12 years.

Going beyond your product, your brand should encompass a sense of purpose and a lifestyle that enables your consumers to live and breathe your ethos. We’re seeing more and more brands (like Nike and Patagonia) voice their opinions on everything from environmental issues to politics.

In the age of purpose marketing, storytelling will become an extremely important skill. Instead of creating the same old sales pitch, consider creating a sub-brand publication on Medium or a branded podcast that will influence, not only your audience’s purchasing choices but also their lifestyle choices.

Outsourcing to freelance digital marketing experts​

The need to build and maintain a consistent online identity will require more marketing muscle than ever. But will marketing now become the department with the lowest operating costs and the highest payroll? The rise of the gig economy has made it so much easier for companies to hire individuals to help them build up, promote, and advertise their content. However, up until now if you wanted to have it all done in one you either had to find a very multi-talented and fast working freelancer or hire a very expensive agency.

Now we’re seeing a move towards greater online cooperation. Instead of hiring one freelancer for PR, content creation, social and growth marketing, freelance marketing teams are banding together to offer an all in one service at a lower cost and higher quality than traditional marketing agencies.

With this 2019 cheatsheet of PR trends, you’re now ready to get on track as soon as you head back to the office. So sit back, relax and Happy New Year!

Know what a journalist wants to see in your pitch​

The formula for the perfect PR pitch is something every professional is searching for. Too much information and your pitch will be tossed in a second. At the same time, trying to keep your story short and concise may risk it being dull or uninsightful. Gieling suggests when pitching a story to a publication, you should first think about their target audience. Why would this story by interesting or relevant to them? As Gieling explained, “we receive 200–400 press releases a day.” Being able to pitch that story in a few lines is key. While this may not necessarily be the secret formula for success, it definitely helps the journalists reading your pitch find what they’re looking for.

Get a freelancer to write about you​

Getting publications to write about you can be tough. Another option is to pitch your story to a freelance writer who’s focusing on your field of expertise. One of the pros is that they’re usually more eager and open to receiving pitches than newsrooms which receive thousands a day. Of course, you don’t want to approach just any freelancer. You want someone who is experienced, well connected with important publications in your space, and someone whose writing style will fit the image you want to present to the public.

As our host, Rodsevich pointed out, it may be even more relevant to reach out to a freelancer who specializes in a very niche topic relevant to your product and how it relates to the industry. For instance, a freelancer specialized specifically in FinTech may be more adept at capturing the most important insights your audience needs to learn about your story, than a journalist from a publication which covers tech in general.

As a freelancer himself, Schultz suggests that the best way to start is to, “try and get into the network of freelancers who are specialized in your topic.” Jeroen Borgesius emphasized that he actually advises people, “if a publication doesn’t pick up a story you send them, try getting it to them through a freelance journalist. Whether or not it’s picked, at least it can get your foot in the door.” Reviewing PR pitches for Sprout every day, Gieling confirmed that he’s much more likely to take a pitch from a freelancer into consideration than a PR firm with a clear agenda for selling their client’s product.

Go digital​​

Going from owning his own PR agency to being an Editor in Chief to being a freelancer, Borgesius has seen the media game from all sides. During the panel discussion, he shared insights from his new adventure, starting his own digital PR Dashboard. Journalists get thousands of pitches a day that they have to sort through. According to a study conducted by Borgesius’ company, there are only about 50,000 journalists and 150,000 PR professionals!! That’s where they’re all coming from!!!

To make the lives of both groups easier, Borgesius’ PR Dashboard provides a platform through which pitches can quickly and easily be sent straight to journalists’ smartphones. Rather than responding or even just deleting emails, journalists have the convenience of being able to swipe left or right on a pitch. Consider modernizing your approach to PR with new PR tech.

Conclusion: how to pitch a story?​​​

Now for my concluding pitch: Pitch a story, not a product. Investigate what’s going on inside your company and measure your performance. Get advice from others. Link your story to trending topics. Explain why your story is interesting for readers. Make friends in your industry’s freelance network. Try a modern twist and tenderize your pitches. For more inspiration on how to pitch a story to the media, you can check here.

Published: 10/02/2019