12 Powerful PR Trends That Will Shape Your Strategy for 2019

Posted by Wendy Marx

12 Powerful PR Trends That Will Shape Your Strategy for 2019

PR trends are like the oil that keeps your car lubricated. A regular check of current, fresh trends will help to keep your public relations strategy running smoothly and limit the chances of its breaking down on the side of the virtual road.

These trends run the gamut from the bubble of Influencer marketing, to the need for storytelling and the growth and impact of artificial intelligence. 

I am joined here today with 11 of the most thoughtful PR pros I know. I asked them to look into their crystal balls to see what we can expect in terms of PR trends 2019. 

In addition to these public relations trends, you'll find actionable tips on how to accelerate your PR strategy.

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12  PR Trends That Will Supercharge Your PR Strategy

1. Traditional Media Wanes, Brand Journalism Rises

Christopher S. Penn"By far the biggest change in PR over the next year will be the continued decline of traditional media's reach and the continued explosion (bubble or not) of influencer marketing IF the economy doesn't tank. The signs for a recession are all aligning, so there's a strong probability of a pullback, which could adversely impact influencer marketing. That said, the same tanking economy will be a death knell for any media property that hasn't figured out how to monetize audiences in the modern world.

"What does all of this mean for PR? Pitching will get increasingly more difficult. If the economy holds, influencer prices will continue to rise exorbitantly. If it doesn't hold, companies will pare back and PR budgets are first against the wall in a down economy.

What should the average PR professional be doing? Build your personal brand now, while things are good, so that you have visibility when hiring gets tight. Learn brand journalism because as media continues to fragment, and especially in a down economy, more brands will try the DIY route and will need help."

-- Christopher S. Penn, Co-Founder, Trust Insights, Inc.

Action Plan:
  • Don't be a one-trick pony relying only on media relations. 
  • Learn brand journalism as brands will rely more on that than traditional media. 

2. PR Assumes a Partner Role

Sally Falkow"PR will move to a position where it is a strategic partner to stakeholders. Instead of pitching press releases, PR will become a content partner for the media identifying opportunities for news stories and providing excellent visual assets they can use.

"Instead of pitching influencers, PR will attract and retain loyal advocates for the brand." 

-- Sally Falkow, Digital Strategist, Meritus Media  

Action Plan:

  • Stop being a press release machine; become a true content partner to the media.
  • Seek true brand advocates rather than only influencers.

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3. PR Professionals Will Play a Broader, Deeper Role

Heidi Cohen"In 2019 and beyond, PR professionals will move beyond once and done activities like one-off press releases (although they’ll continue to be used for legally required announcements).

"Instead PR professionals will shift to helping clients develop on-going relationships with their target audiences across interest segments. As a result, they’ll expand and deepen their reach by creating share of audience attention using consistent content distributed across multiple channels.

"To maximize effectiveness, PR professionals will use the power of storytelling sourced from employees across the organization. By adding this human dimension, they’ll provide the basis for improved trust into the future.

"Lastly PR professionals will tailor their messages to include more visual, video and voice content based on the context of the device used." 

-- Heidi Cohen, Chief Content Officer, Actionable Marketing Guide

Action Plan: 

  • Create content across multiple channels to expand and deepen your reach.
  • Use the power of storytelling throughout your organization to personalize your content. 
  • Deepen your communications with visual, video, and voice content tailored to your audience.

4. The Quest for Balanced Artificial Intelligence Continues

Melissa Hoffman"There are two major areas in which communications pros will face hefty challenges in the coming year. We’ve all been hearing a lot about artificial intelligence and machine learning, and the big question is: how do we leverage AI and machine learning to enhance, not threaten, the communications role?

"Another big challenge is how to produce effective storytelling as the lines between marketing and PR blur and fake news and fact continue to battle it out." 

--Melissa Hoffmann, Editor/Content Director, PR News

Action Plan:

  • Work on ways to integrate artificial intelligence into your PR strategy that enhances your role.
  • Become an effective storyteller while avoiding any fake news creep.

5. Artificial Intelligence Will Impact How PR Is Done

Michelle Garrett"One of the biggest changes I foresee is AI making an impact on what public relations pros do and how they do it. Many of the more mundane tasks PR practitioners do can be automated, which makes them good candidates for AI. While AI in PR is in its infancy, there are areas like influencer marketing in which AI can already save time for PR pros."

 -- Michelle Garrett, PR Consultant/Writer,

Action Plan:

  • Discover ways to use artificial intelligence in your public relations strategy while keeping your brand relevant.

6. Native Advertising Proves Its Worth

Chad Politt"The lines between Marketing and PR will continue to blur in 2019. Having had my finger on the pulse of native advertising most of this decade, we're seeing major long-form sponsored content adoption from PR professionals. In fact, I just read that 75% of communications professionals have used long-form sponsored content as part of their mix. This trend will continue to grow as publishers are hungry to drive and grow new forms of revenue." 

-- Chad Pollitt, VP Marketing, inPowered

Action Plan:

  • Occupy the intersection of marketing and advertising as the two disciplines continue to blur.
  • Embrace the power of native advertising as publishers seek new revenue opportunities.

7. A Sharper Distinction Between Public Relations and Media Relations

David Meerman Scott"2019 is the year that PR pros finally realize that public relations and media relations are different activities. Public relations simply means communicating with your constituents and there are so many amazing ways to do that directly by creating great content. Media Relations -- working with journalists to tell as story -- is a subset of public relations, but is what most PR people focus on, limiting their reach." 

-- David Meerman Scott, Author, Marketing and Sales Strategist,     

Action Plan:

8. Storytelling and Relationship Building Become Priorities

Tom Pick"The two most important skills for a PR professional -- story telling and relationship building -- haven't changed. But the ways those skills are being deployed is changing. Beyond the media and even industry influencers, PR pros will expand the audiences they work with to include a broader set of partners: vertical websites, content syndicators, complementary product vendors, trade associations, and others who can help bring their stories to a wider audience." 

-- Tom PickIndependent B2B Digital Marketing Consultant,                                                       

Action Plan:

  • Expand your net, reaching a diverse set of partners who can help scale your stories.

9. Earned Media's Role Expands, PR Measurement Improves

Jay Baer"The biggest change for PR in the next 12 months will be the acceleration of and broadening of its role to encompass all earned media, including influencer marketing and word of mouth. Further, we'll see quicker adoption of more advanced measurement, putting PR closer to or on par with the metrics used by their brethren in paid and owned media." 

-- Jay Baer, Author/Founder, Convince & Convert

Action Plan:

10. Smarter Metrics Become a Reality

Gini Dietrich"The biggest change coming to the PR industry in 2019 is even smarter metrics. With Google Data Studioearned and owned media attribution, and the ability to connect the software in our communications stacks with one another, the dream that we prove we are an investment and not an expense is finally coming true. And it's not as unattainable as it once was. Bring it all together in Data Studio and you'll have beautiful reports that mean something for your executives or clients." 

— Gini Dietrich, CEO, Arment Dietrich, Author, Spin Sucks

Action Plan:

  • Get on the measurement bandwagon so you're proving PR's worth.
  • Now that Google Data Studio is out of Beta, use it to visually demonstrate your results.

11. The Need for PR Pros to Embrace the Entire PESO Model

iliyana stareva"PR people are the best content creators and storytellers and have the unique opportunity to embrace the entire PESO model (Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned Media) for clients. To achieve this, PR needs to get confident with numbers, data, software and truly showing ROI across the entire PESO. Moving to such an inbound world is inevitable in our digital reality."

--Iliyana StarevaGlobal Partner Program Manager, Hubspot

Action Plan:

  • Incorporate all parts of the PESO model into your public relations strategy.
  • Learn how to show ROI across the your entire strategy.


Before concluding, I want to touch on one other trend impacting public relations. 

12. Fake News Frenzy Escalates

Another powerful trend that has continued to grow is that of fake news. What started a few years ago as a theory has blown into an all-out war against news media outlets -- and journalists are definitely feeling the heat. They are effectively in a fight to win back the trust of their audience. 

This has rippling effects on the PR industry. As PR folks prepare campaigns, content, and even press releases, they must be alert to any potential threats to their brand's reputation. 

Action Plan:

  • Recognize the pressure that journalists are under. 
  • Be specific in terms of quotes, citing all sources, and being hyper-vigilant when it comes to figures and statistics.

In review...

12 PR Trends to Look Out for in2019

If there's any constant among these 12 trends, it's that PR continues to evolve. If you're not changing along with the industry, you'll be left on the sidelines, a relic of the PR that was. But with the right insights and tools you can stay on top of your game. These 12 trends will put on the right road for a successful PR 2019. 


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Nov 20, 2018

Wendy Marx

Wendy Marx is the founder and president of Marx Communications, a boutique inbound marketing and public relations agency. An award-winning B2B public relations pro, she has helped many small- & medium-sized firms (SMBs) become well-known industry brands and transform their businesses, going from Anonymity to Industry Icon™.

Her business articles have appeared in The New York Times, InformationWeek, Inc., Advertising Age, & Fast Company, among other outlets. 

View all posts by Wendy Marx