PR Trends That Will Shape the Landscape in 2018

As the media landscape evolves, PR agencies are faced with two choices: adapt or surrender to irrelevance. The age of drafting and pitching press releases to the media is long gone. You won’t be able to garner much traction or press for your clients that way.

Instead, PR agencies are charged with expanding their focus to other platforms, and building relationships with the media in an ever-evolving digital and social landscape. As with every discipline in the marketing and advertising industry, trends come and go.

It’s both worth it and essential to stay on top of these trends if you wish to remain relevant and valuable to your clients. Let’s take a look at some of the trends that will shape the PR landscape in 2018.

Content Is Still King

There doesn’t seem to be an end to the reign of content as the king of PR. Good content that adds value plays a crucial role in determining whether your client’s business or brand builds visibility with their audience.

As the media landscape continues to change and grow, more brands have ventured into cultivating their online presence through websites, along with popular social media platforms. 2018 is set to see interactive content such as videos, gifs and other engaging posts remain vital in creating brand identity within an organisation.

These integrated communications strategies are gaining tract with brands across the economy. More and more clients are approaching agencies for a full spectrum of services, requesting PR, social media and digital services in a single brief. This is happening because the media landscape and consumer mind set continues to evolve.

Influencer Marketing Remains Relevant

Despite recent scandals in fake social media influencers being exposed, at its core, influencer marketing still presents a valuable way for brands to stamp their impact on cultural trends.

In the past, influencers didn’t foster long-term relationships with the brands they worked with. They would just post once or twice across their social media platforms, then swiftly move on. 2018, however, will see influencer marketing crossing over to public relations. PR practitioners will have to progressively work with influencers to develop deep rooted relationships with brands.

Thought Leadership Is Still Leading the Way

Thought leadership pieces have long held an important place in business. An expert’s opinion is always valued in the media landscape. Sectors across the economy are always on the lookout for knowledgeable thought leaders to provide originality to their articles.

While traditional thought leadership pieces were penned by people holding senior positions in their industries, think CEOs and COOs, in 2018, this will change. The media always appreciates profound and personable opinions from anywhere in businesses, which means thought leadership pieces won’t necessarily have to come from the traditional leaders in industry.

Public Relations Strategy

Communication without direction has no purpose

There are reasons why sayings in English vernacular like “walking around in circles” and “talking around the point” exist. It is because these two activities are popular with the indecisive. Every brand has a story to share and if you are not 100 percent sure what that story is , you better get cracking and find out because the key messages you want to communicate to  your target audiences comes from your brand’s legacy and core values.

The core message you to decide to communicate needs to push your business’ key objectives. If you wish to promote your business on innovative mobile technology, don’t send out a press release on fax machines and beepers. Some say this is an extreme example, but what happens when the choices are more subtle?  For instance, ‘We are a great company to work for!’ vs. ‘We are a good company to work for!’ Words can impart meanings that may be similar but are fundamentally different.

Without direction, molding your communications to meet your business objectives, your message has no purpose; no value will come from it as it will not contribute to the bigger picture your company has been working towards.

Some tips on getting some direction:

  1. All your internal and external communications need to reflect your company’s objectives
  2. Talk about your core message to anyone who will listen
  3. Make sure you repeat yourself – repetition promotes recall
  4. Never deviate from the script – you will deviate from your brand
  5. Make sure everyone in your company is singing from the same hymn sheet – that way you know they are going in the right direction

Is your staff uncertain of what they can say about your business? Is your business being promoted incorrectly by your employees? If so, give us a call and we will get all your ducks in a row.

One fart in the breeze please

In today’s version of the South African business space I can appreciate times are tough and people tighten belts. But we know the best money spent is money invested, because it grows success and legacy. It’s seeing your little company seedling grow into a great tree which will bear the fruits of boundless opportunity which will lead to biographies and guest spots on TED Talks.

The challenge is that when it comes to communications, a shot in the dark is a fart in the breeze. Often we get requests for quotes on once-off press releases or ‘ad hoc’ PR services. While I can appreciate businesses are exploring different below-the-line marketing strategies, I often feel disappointed that they will not get to see the true triumphs clever PR can afford their brand’s reputation.

When it comes to messaging, PR tends to run more qualitative then quantitative. The reality check is that if your business sends out media alerts one to three times year, they will never get noticed much less published. Want to know why?

  1. The press might know of you – but they don’t know you

You’ve noticed your competitor in the news regularly and think it’s perhaps time you started playing on the same field. Good plan, but what you don’t realise is that behind that competitor’s media visibility, has been a dedicated PR professional who has been calling, pitching, meeting newsroom deadlines, sourcing imagery and sharing applied research to get their client in the press. There has been a concerted effort to build a relationship with that journalist for the past three months at least. PR’s hard work has paid off and your competitor is reaping the benefits.


  1. Colloquial wisdom rings true – especially when it comes to the press
  • A shot in the dark – or ‘ad hoc’ as I like to call it, is basically blindly firing off bullets with no sustained plan. It rarely reaps any reward
  • If a tree falls down in the woods and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? The journalist you have decided to directly email (to save on money) has never met you, doesn’t know your business, and has over 300 unread mails in their inbox, so unless you work for NASA or The Queen, the chances are that if your story does not directly relate to headline news, they won’t read it. So if no one opens your email and reads it, does it exist?
  • A fart in the breeze – a small insignificant little poof in a wave of information and repetition. Your message has been whispered once, your brand has been drowned out by your competitor’s South Wester.

Why bother then? Simple, bother because your brand has something to say, an achievement has been made, a service, or product improved and there’s potential. Where there’s one happy customer, there’s more. PR offers you a far more trusted and reliable source of content share because a journalist has selected your story out of 299 others because they know you have something important to say. You are not the fart, you are the breeze!

Want to unleash your brand’s full potential? Black Snow PR is there with a mobile and data in hand- let’s have coffee.

The perplexing psychology of “death by tweet”

No South African media week is complete without a Twitter fueled ruckus that becomes politicised through media sensation. Yet again, the rest of the Twittersphere looks on as history repeats itself, another reputable professional has gone down in a blaze of fury over a poor tweet.

The fact of the matter is that negative tweets spark more interest because of their controversial nature. No one really pays much attention to the nice tweet a politician sent to the opposition. One could be bold enough to say that it is good common sense not to tweet anything that can be seen as unkind.

So then why are these instances so frequent with each example of “death by tweet” more colourful than the next? For example, earlier this year an educational achievement came under questionable scrutiny from a trained media officer. Here’s looking at you Khusela Sangoni.

Tweeting is dangerous especially when there’s a loaded ego ready to fire. What we see is a viable platform for not sharing news and discussion in an open and positive context, but a boxing ring where even the most basic of self-censorship ceases to operate. Behavioural psychology indicates that in a blur of attention seeking and one-upmanship, tweeps who shoot from the hip operate from a bubble that eliminates normal emotional ques that aid in self-control. The rational and observant adult is gone and your inner immature teen is slamming thumbs across your mobile.

This is a phenomenon that can strike anyone no matter how extensive their media or diplomatic training. It comes down to the old adage “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” So before you hit ‘tweet’, run through the following check list:

  • Is it mean – yes it might be witty or funny but that’s irrelevant
  • Can it be misinterpreted – we all remember the purple aliens
  • Empathy – how would you feel being on the receiving end of that tweet?

If you would like to read a more in-depth article into the nitty gritty of the human condition and the tweet trigger, this is an interesting read.

Digital PR

The impact of going the extra mile

When last can you say customer service went the extra mile for you? It’s a sad truth that in this modern, digital era, more people have forgotten what it means to put the extra effort in. We’ve lost the connection to people and it’s rare that we find individuals in business that truly care. However, having a gooey heart that actually gives a fig could improve your a competitive advantage.

As the agency market booms, it’s more important than ever to differentiate your offering. To get ahead, it can’t be all about the money. A lot of agencies lose sight of this, charging big retainers, adding huge mark-ups, delivering only according to what was outlined in the service level agreement and charging for anything out of the scope of activities. With most projects or retainers, there will always be a degree of creep, but it’s learning how to manage it that’s the trick.

From experience, charging for every extra service is not going to set you up for a long-term, sustainable partnership. This applies to any service environment. For example, isn’t it nice when you’re given a biscotti with your cappuccino or you’re offered a complimentary bottle of wine when staying at a hotel? It’s simple touches, attention to detail and the extra effort that inspires loyalty.

Across all industries, the more effort put in, the bigger the rewards. so if you work in a PR environment, toss in a few extra copies of that radio interview, or be reasonable when a press release has to be sent out after-hours. In the long-term it’s building relationships and going the extra mile that will count the most and ensure sustained, repeat business.

Business Communications Practitioners

Is business acumen a priority on your list when choosing a communications provider? Business acumen or knowledge of business strategy and operations is as important for communication professionals as it is for CEOs because communications can impact the bottom line and contribute towards an organisation’s overall success. However, new research by the VMA Group1 shows that business acumen is a skill that communications teams in South Africa don’t rate highly enough.

Regardless of increasing pressure on budgets, the gravitas of the communications role as a strategic advisory function is going to increase in the next two years as more and more South African organisations realise its value. So what does this mean for South African business? It means there is a definite need to upskill PR and communications practitioners to make them more business savvy.

Outsourcing the communications function to a consultant or agency with the right capabilities is an advantage because it gives you immediate access to skilled professionals trained in the art of communications. What you want are practitioners that are creative but strategic thinkers that will immerse themselves fully in your business and get to know how it operates; and will act with integrity, transparency and good judgement. This is the kind of agency that will challenge or question your decisions rather than simply take instructions. Sound daunting? It is definitely something to embrace, a strategic advisor has to have your organisation’s best interests at heart and is driven to help you make the best decisions for your business.

At Black Snow Public Relations, we make it our business to know our clients’ business and integrate ourselves fully into each and every project we take on. For more information phone +27 (0) 86 011 0063. Alternatively, connect with us on Twitter.



Digital PR

How the wrong spokesperson can undermine your PR campaign

Public Relations professionals face increasing pressure from clients to deliver attention grabbing campaigns that show a good return on investment. However, the most well executed PR campaign can be undermined if the wrong spokesperson is selected to represent the brand.

One of the most frustrating things for a PR practitioner is when a company spokesperson lacks the skills and charisma to properly engage with media. A lack of media-savvy can be detrimental to a brand because awkward and unclear message positioning dilutes campaign credibility which decreases the impact of the campaign.

Let’s create a scenario with a pretend client in the insurance space, the topics devised for the spokesperson are interesting, thought-provoking, on-trend and always generate media interest. However, if this spokesperson refuses media interview requests, especially in the broadcast space, it leads to a frustrated PR agency because the impact is two fold. Deliverables become skewed and the “client” is actually damaging their brand in the long run.

At Black Snow Public Relations, one of our first recommendations to clients wishing to embark on a publicity campaign is to ensure that the company or organisation has the right face and voice to fully support the brand. Once the spokesperson has been chosen, media training is an imperative. Media training helps a spokesperson understand the inner workings of the media, identify and accurately convey key messages, and they learn how to respond to crises or tricky media queries.

The right spokesperson for your brand? They have the right level of knowledge and expertise, a strong personality and sufficient dynamism to credibly convey the defining characteristics the brand embodies. People identify with brands – and people that are warm, engaging, caring and confident.

At the end of the day, communication is all about conveying a message to an audience. Knowing exactly who the audiences are, and identifying the key objectives, messages and strategic tactics are essential elements to any PR campaign. However, selecting the right person to convey these messages concisely and correctly can ultimately make or break a PR campaign.

For more information on the Black Snow Group, visit or phone
+27 (0) 86 011 0063. Alternatively, connect with them on Twitter.

Digital PR

5 Goals Every Blogger Should Set Up in Google Analytics

Do you want to build a successful business online?

I bet you do. Now that I have your attention, what is the first and most important step that will help you achieve that?

It’s important to know your audience and to build an awesome website that is fast and secure. It’s also important to have a social media presence and to write engaging articles.

But all of these come after you set up your business objectives and goals.

Setting up your business objectives and goals is the first and most important step towards your success online. Without them, you might as well not start it at all.

Set up goals for your blog

Like business goals, you also need to have goals for your website.

Whether they are simple goals like attracting readers and engaging visitors, or bigger goals, like increasing conversion rate, you need to have them on paper.

Then, once you are aware of what you want to achieve with your website, it’s time to start measuring those goals.

The simplest way to do this is by using Google Analytics. Google Analytics helps you not only see stats about your visitors, but also lets you create and measure your website goals and objectives.

Getting started

If you are just getting started with Google Analytics, you may want to read more about reviewing your offer, revisiting your conversion funnel, and revamping your communications, or get a handle on the basics of Google Analytics.

But, you likely already have a Google Analytics account, so let’s just dive in to creating the first goals for your website.

For starters, I would recommend you measure:

  • Engaged visitors: visitors who stay on your website longer than the average
  • Readers: visitors who read more pages on your website that the average
  • Email subscribers: visitors who sign up for your newsletters or freebies
  • Customers: visitors who purchase a product
  • Ad performance: clicks on ads to see which one is performing best, and who sent the traffic that clicks on your ads.

Before diving into each of these stats, let’s see how you can create a Google Analytics goal.

Log into Google Analytics and from your Account Home select the website for which you want to set up goals.

On the next screen you should see the Visitors Overview—this is a good opportunity to check your Pages/Visit and Avg. Visit Duration stats. You will use them later.

For further insight click here