PR trends and predictions for conscious companies in 2020

Winning PR trends for 2020

In times of head-spinning change, it can be tempting to cling to the constants. The security of what we know keeps us warm. It’s why we get the same coffee every morning, take the same route to work, and wear pink on Wednesdays. But what happens when clinging to the security of what we know is actually more destructive than evolving to thrive in a new PR and media landscape? 

We’ve seen unprecedented rates of change in the last decade, and life in the PR world is no exception. With the shift away from print media, the rise of blogs, freelancers and influencers, and the sheer volume of content being produced, it seems there is no limit to the impact that technological advancements will continue to have. Given the exponential changes it would be fair for small businesses to question whether PR will remain as an incredibly effective tool for their business’s growth and scale in 2020. But the good news is in: 2020 presents with PR remaining unrivaled in it’s ability to build trust and reputation.

Looking into that crystal ball of PR trends for 2020 we have highlighted 5 areas that we see emerging for brands looking to reach new audiences through media coverage.


PR trends in 2020

So, what do we expect to see in the media and PR landscape of tomorrow?

In the coming year, we anticipate PR trends to reflect the continued growth of voice search (think voice friendly news headlines), the resurgence of DIY mentalities and learning from one another through PR mentoring and media training, slow romancing media friendships, embedding storytelling into the business DNA (we wrote about this recently on our blog), understanding the importance of business as a force for good (also on the blog!), the continued growth of podcasting and of course PR 101: clear and clever pitches and robust key messages.


New PR horizons, DIY PR

Under the pressures of start-up budgets savvy communicators will always learn ways to DIY and upskill. For those with limited media budgets, 2020 will see brands bring the capability of pitching to media in-house. This will see business owners become confident in researching media targets, developing an engaging bio, finessing a pitch and crafting concise and confident key messaging.

Finding a good PR mentoring and training program that is anchored by a depth of understanding of the ever-changing media landscape will be instrumental in helping businesses win meaningful and lasting media coverage.

For brands who are willing to embrace change over routine, this will mean new and exciting opportunities that come with harnessing the potential of the modern PR landscape. The horizon that is laid before us has the capacity to offer greater freedom and deeper relationships within like-minded communities. PR campaigns that hero genuine and personal storytelling will hit home in a world jaded by the artificiality of mass-produced advertising.

And as a small business owner, who better to tell the story than the founder? In 2020, brands who may be strapped for PR retainer budget will jump into the DIY media wheelhouse through education and training to empower themselves with knowledge. This will see conscious companies regularly quoted across print, podcasts, radio and TV as go-to thought leaders as they save busy news desks time in sourcing new experts for comment.

The beauty of DIY PR freedom will be in configuring strategies to suit a brand’s current objective, product launches or targets. These small business’ unique power is in their agility and closeness to their stories. In a world that champions the value of the individual, small businesses who upskill and learn the basics of PR will soon become familiar entities and household names. 

fragmentation of media: PR trends

Slow romance: shorter target lists

In 2020, spray and pray is officially done and dusted. Small media target lists are in. Good quality, meaningful PR will be practiced like a slow romance: like dating the media. Think flowers, chocolates and lots of love notes.

The best PR approaches will focus on relationships and playing the long game. Creating mutually beneficial relationships will establish a rich value exchange with media outlets long into the future of business growth and scaling. With 75% of journalists saying that only a quarter of the pitches and releases they receive being relevant, 2020 will see a vast change of pace in PR. No more media release email blasts to 200 targets, the focus will instead be on understanding the placement and agenda of the outlets that are approached and ensuring that they’re the right fit before hitting send.

In 2020, the continued rise of the gig economy will mean an increasing fragmentation of the media landscape and with it, freelancers and creatives. Forging connections with freelancers who write for many outlets will give business owners access to a multitude of opportunities. 2020 will see the continued growth of relationships being established between brands and reporters through social media, in particular through LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. Yep, Twitter will remain an important tool for news!


Voice search friendly headlines

With predictions that 50% of Google searches to move to voice search by 2020, understanding how this will integrate with pitching and headlines will be integral to the performance of digital PR in driving new traffic to businesses websites. Over the coming months, business owners looking to capture voice search traffic should consider ways of producing content that is semantic in nature and can be discovered by voice.


Embedding ethics and storytelling into the heart of brands

In the crazy busy world of the news cycle of 2020 it'll be all the more essential for brands to link their pitches to a broader conversations, current affairs, statistics, recently published research, or trending conversations. Spending time investigating and understanding outlets and specific journalists will take time, but will pay businesses back in return on investment.

Giving in to the flow of the new PR landscape, staying dynamic, and engaging across platforms will mean getting comfortable with re-thinking the way small businesses approach PR and even, using communications to rethink business strategy. The progressive rise of digital media and the shrinking nature of traditional newsrooms means adapting to the fact that a well-written pitch simply won’t be enough. In 2020, pitches will be relevant and personable, with a strong news-worthy hook to meet the hungry demands of our modern world. 

More than a news hook or clear messaging however, brands will be driven by consumer demand to be better. In 2020 there will be no excuses for businesses that haven’t considered diversity, social impact and the environment in their business and communications strategies.

Conscious companies will succeed in winning headlines because they have good baked into every step of their business

Conscious companies will succeed in winning headlines because they have good baked into every step of their business. Media and in particular Gen Z consumers want to hear about woke businesses who have incredible stories and ethical frameworks, generous but profitable give back programs and thoroughly researched supply chains as part of their ethos.

In 2020, businesses and brands with a message deeply embedded into their DNA will find media attention attracted to them and the nature of PR will invariably be flipped from proactive outreach to reactive responses to inbound media inquiries.

Inbound inquiries will demand businesses to be crystal clear on their message and stories and what they’re trying to achieve through their media coverage. That means no hiding behind green washing, generic slogans or poorly thought out ethical messages without genuine backing in the business. 2020’s headline friendly businesses and brands will have defined communication strategies, firm business foundations and robust key messaging which will allow the confidence that comes from preparation to permeate their media coverage. 


The continued rise of audio: PR for podcasts

Podcasts will continue to thrive as a key tactic for 2020 PR outreach, as they continue to be the holy grail of portable information, every multi-tasker’s best friend, and really reallllly valuable when it comes to speaking to ideal audiences. In stepping away from the mouthpiece of the big outlets that captivate a smaller percentage of brand audiences (but build exponential trust and positioning), there is much to be said for the impact of speaking through smaller, niche outlets that communicate intimately and serve to engage with small communities.

Podcast penetration while continue to strengthen in 2020 where it will remain a strong player for audiences between 18-34 who crave on-demand, binge-style consumption

Podcast penetration while continue to strengthen in 2020 where it will remain a strong player for audiences between 18-34 who crave on-demand, binge-style consumption. According to an Edison report, 85% of people who listen to podcasts, listen to the end, with the average podcast spanning 45 minutes and podcast ads occupying 90 seconds, this format continues to build deep relationships between broadcaster and it’s audiences. For businesses looking to build trust, reputation and deep connection in 2020, this will be the medium for transformation.

Although the times they are a-changin, and PR will continue to transform in ways that can be both intimidating and hopeful, those willing to embrace and adapt to the new media landscape will enjoy the benefits of being awake to fresh new opportunities and consistent spotlight in the media.


Keen to learn how to hack your own PR strategy? Check out our one-day PR workshop or our 8 week mentoring program.

Odette Barry