PR Minds Offer Predictions for B2B Companies in 2011

It’s January, which means it’s time for a plethora of predictions.  Our contribution is a synthesis of the thoughts from members of the B2B Practice Group of the Worldcom Public Relations Group, the world’s largest network of independent PR firms. In conversations with Worldcom partners in North and South America, a few trends emerged about the direction of our profession in 2011:

  1. We must continue to improve our clients’ digital communications capabilities.  PR firms made great strides in 2010 and many clients, such as professional service firms, have put us in the social media driver’s seat.  But maintaining the status quo will not be enough.  Because our clients are now convinced of the power of digital communications, they want to maximize it and want us to figure out the tools that fit their strategies and produce the best results for their bottom line.  If PR firms don’t deliver on this opportunity, our clients will look for guidance elsewhere.
  2. Social media communications will be more controlled by both client companies and regulatory agencies. In the latter area, the SEC and IRS have already gotten hip to Twitter and other social networks. The growth of these communities forced the regulatory agencies to begin to understand how they operate and how our clients are using them. This most likely will result in new regulations in the years to come.  At the same time, as our clients recognize the power of social media – for both good and bad —  they will seek to tighten their internal controls.
  3. Reputation management (RM) will become more of a strategic necessity, with clients formalizing RM roles and functions internally and externally.  A seasoned independent marketing and PR consultant told me in mid-December that the biggest uptick in his business in 2010 was in the reputation management space.  He attributed it directly to the rapid evolution of social media and how fast and furiously everything moves on the net. I predict we will get more calls from CEOs to “get things off Google” than we anticipate.
  4. Three magic letters remain at the forefront of all conversations about PR: ROI.  What has changed is that we now have more tools to help prove it. In 2011 PR will become even more “wrapped around” content creation (see my colleague Elizabeth Sosnow’s post on this from yesterday) and because of that we have an opportunity to really morph the ROI conversation into: “what constitutes success?”
  5. My prediction: we will move beyond “social media” – campaigns will be more about the content and the conversation and less about traditional PR. Right now many professional services firms are using social media as a way to promote their content. This is fine starting point but in 2011 B2B companies will start having conversations and ultimately figuring out how to profit from listening to customers and providing them tailored services that answer the questions they are asking. For more, Harvard Business Review has some very helpful survey results on this topic.

What is your prediction for the PR industry in 2011?

To reach Cortney:

Phone: 212.840.1661
Twitter: @cortneyr
LinkedIn: Cortney Rhoads Stapleton