We could talk about public relations in terms of some futuristic reality that is so foreign to our current existence.
We could talk about an industry where artificial intelligence does most of the relating to the public and PR practitioners essentially become relics of the past.
We could conjure up images of galactic universes where every online member creates a public persona, for business or pleasure, a universe where the world becomes smaller just merely through a wireless connection.
If past behavior predicts future progress, then many of these trends will build off former ones. The current conversation surrounding this topic places science and data at the forefront of many future trends.
Not that the industry will be completely obsolete, but the way in which information is used will change. Many current conversations, however, revolve around:
One of the current discussions is around Web 3.0. Web 3.0 has become an all-encompassing term that defines the way in which PR professionals use the web to relate to the public. In some ways, we already have seen advances in the way Web 2.0 has allowed professionals to use social media as a part of PR activities.
In the future, the reality of an artificially intelligent engenders ideas like using social bookmarking to produce more search results, as the articles are vetted by the community as opposed to just search terms. A semantic web, which would automatically categorize information, would also leave most of the work to artificial intelligence instead of humans. More significantly, these advances would open the door to a virtual existence that includes virtual shopping malls and other experiences.
PR’s influence in other sectors
In this time and the future, the industry might find itself influencing other areas, namely, SEO and content and inbound marketing. Part of getting the word out online is utilizing effective SEO, so that information reaches more consumers.
And while marketing has always been intertwined with other communications, PR professionals will have to rely heavily on marketing tools to advance in the industry. First and foremost, marketing will still play central role in gathering data and metrics. Business analytics will also still play a role helping organizations predict consumer choices.
Social media will become a place, by virtue of its grassroots appeal, where PR practitioners can establish trust and authenticity. Not only as a place where organizations and people can promote themselves, social media has become, and will be, an interactive place where news can be disseminated to the community by the community.
Science and data
In previous existences, organizations only need do the work of building relationships. While PR professionals can rely on marketing specialist to explain information, those looking to stay ahead of the game should become familiar with analytical tools that help predict behavior, as science and data will continue to be a part of the communications landscape.
PR, more than any other industry in communications, is based in building relationships, and more importantly, building trust. As technology advances and consumers become more sophisticated, PR practitioners will have to establish ethics and guidelines that will allow this industry to adapt to changes. As with any industry in the midst of change, PR is tasked with developing ethics that are flexible enough to bend with trends but also protect the consumer.
In the future….
Public relations will comprise a number of disciplines that will work together to build organizations and their brands.
With technology as the catalyst for change, PR professionals might find they can work more efficiently, but the task of engaging the public will require more than planning but vision as well.
The reason? Today’s glut of self-promoters and amateur organizations, who have access to as much information online as professional organizations do, have created serious competition for traditional public relations firms.
Ultimately, in the end, the future of public relations is in the hands of the ever changing tool called the internet.
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