What’s in store for PR in 2019?

December 14 2018

It’s that time of year. We’re all finishing up the current year while looking towards the future, gazing into our all-knowing crystal balls. And in our industry, that means looking at what’s in store for the field of public relations in 2019.

I took the liberty of asking my friends and colleagues at the Public Relations Global Network about their PR predictions. With a global coverage of 50 agencies and about 1,000 communications professionals in six continents, it’s a vast resource of industry knowledge and insights. Here’s a smattering of answers, edited for space:

“Increase in influencer marketing, continued merging of paid/earned, fewer press releases, ever shorter news cycles and the fact that PR practitioners need to be “jacks of all trades” (media relations is just a small part of the equation)” – Brianne Miller, LCI, San Francisco

“I predict that there will be more mergers and acquisitions among PR firms globally, since our industry is still transforming.” – CL Conroy, The Conroy Martinez Group, Miami

“I think next year will keep pushing us deeper and deeper into the digital world. Customers will be more demanding in terms of results, analysis and judicious evaluation. (Also), we will have to deal with the dark social media; since that is a private form of messaging, there’s no way of understanding the true reach of those stories.” – Rui Elias, Global Press, Lisbon

“The coming year and beyond will see us increasingly working to bring people and groups with disparate agendas and goals to the table in a more productive and collaborative manner. We need to support the separation of ideas from individuals so that merits of solutions are the focus of the debate – and not personal differences.” – Blake Lewis, Three Box Strategic Communications, Dallas

“Decreased retainer-based PR aimed at getting media coverage and increased “guaranteed coverage and results,” such as paid publicity and/or events for immediate performance. Retaining talented personnel also is a serious issue.” – Judy Kuramata, Integrate Communications, Tokyo

“PR has to serve sales and reputation. The trend next year will continue to shift to content marketing /paid media, since they are trackable. PR 2019 will become even more a part of content marketing strategies. Agencies that are able to combine both the PR craft and the technological skills will be very powerful and able to dominate.” – Uwe Schmidt, Industrie-Contact, Hamburg 

“In the US, we will see more crises fueled by social media, because of the heightened awareness of gender, race and social justice issues, and the divisiveness around those issues. More companies will be reviewing and instituting crisis communications plans that factor in the potential scenarios they face today.” – Sandy Lish, The Castle Group, Boston and Atlanta

“The global crisis in trust will deepen in Australia during 2019. In response, we predict brand owners in the world’s 13th biggest economy will spend more on reputation management, social license and corporate social responsibility activities.” – Mark Paterson, Currie Communications, Melbourne

“The trends of 2018 will continue into the coming year.  Those include the growth of content marketing and the emphasis by professional communicators to differentiate their messaging from untruths and fabrications that have become a part of everyday conversation.   We will also see a heightened effort by the media to ensure that infringement of the First Amendment should not and will not be tolerated.” – Scott Hanson, HMA PR, Phoenix

“Deepening of Client-Agency-Stakeholder relationships will be a key driver in 2019 and beyond if PR agencies are to remain relevant in the future.” – Andy See Teong Leng, Perspective Strategies, Kuala Lumpur

“2019 will be the year that progressive PR firms will fully embrace the PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) model. We’ll stop wasting time arguing about what is, and what is not, public relations.” – Anne Buchanan, Buchanan Public Relations, Philadelphia

“We will see our role further evolve into a more general reputation and overall communication survival and prevalence consultancy. – Robert Bauer, Asoluto, Vienna

“It will be an awesome growth year for the public relations industry as PR firms continue to reinvent themselves. There will be an increased need for PR networks to do business together in the United States and across the globe. Finally, crisis communications will focus on harassment, shootings and the actions of undisciplined leaders.” – Ed Stevens, Stevens Strategic Communications, Cleveland

“Clients are increasingly valuing strategic counseling to help them navigate a public opinion that puts more and more pressure on corporate entities.” – Stephane Billiet, We Agency, Paris

“Measurement & ROI will continue to drive decisions to hire agencies; physicality will become less and less important and virtual reality will emerge as a prominent force; lightning fast news cycles will dominate: PR pros need to understand how and when to newsjack and be prepared for short-lived successes, or even failures; brands need to find strategies to rise above news exhaustion and focus on positivity and unification; and women in leadership roles and brands with a woman’s voice will be front and center.” Ashley Boarman, LCI, San Francisco

“We must create a new cooperation model that is more measurable in terms of quantitative achievement, such as how much sales or how many leads a campaign can generate.” – Joanne Chan, LBS Communications Consulting Ltd., Hong Kong

“As always, credibility is a must in our business.” – Dominique Biquard, Identia PR, Buenos Aires


It will be an evolving year.

What’s your prediction for the communications industry for 2019? Leave a comment here or email me at: david@landispr.com.