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What’s In & What’s Out in the PR World for 2014


This is a guest post by PR Columnist, Alison Kenney.

Happy New Year! If you’re like many of us, you’re probably eager to see the last of some of 2013’s industry trends and welcome new, better habits for 2014.


Here are a few to look forward to:


Social Media Tracking – Most PR pros I know use a mashed up manual method for tracking social media metrics. It works like this: you start with the metrics your various tools give you, then manually add metrics that are important to your campaign or client to come up with a way to show progress (or not) toward meeting your goals. The last few years have shown us that the data and technology are there, perhaps this will be the year we’ll have customizable apps to help us track and measure social media efforts.

Tear-jerking videos – I’m betting that we’ll see a few more of these this year. Some of 2013’s viral videos were stellar, like WestJet’s Christmas Wishes Granted and Dove’s Beauty Sketches. But some tried to marry their brand with a serious issue and didn’t quite pull it off (IMHO), like this one from Special K.

Budgeting for formerly ‘free’ social media plays – In the second half of 2013, Facebook made some changes to encourage brands to pay to promote their posts. Now that Twitter is a public company, expect to see a push for ad dollars on that platform too.

Female empowerment – Topics like ‘Lean In’ and ‘Having it All’ peppered the headlines in 2013. Will the buzz build or fade away in 2014? Brands are reflecting our interests in the topics, as we’ve seen with the Dove and Special K ads mentioned above, plus Pantene’s Labels Against Women ad, which pretty much rides Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In messaging.

Native advertising – Formerly known as advertorials, expect to see more PR pros pitching media partnerships in which their clients or brands contribute regular content or sponsorship to a media outlet. Even the venerable New York Times is preparing for more native ads in 2014.

Long form journalism – There may be fewer examples of this type of reporting, but the good ones will blow you away – as evidenced by this list of 2013’s best longform writing. The New York Times was so successful with its “Snow Fall” project (a Peabody award-winning feature story about surviving an avalanche told in print, video and multimedia) that the Times created a new position to edit ongoing similar projects.

Tweeting responsibly – This is IN, right folks?


Traditional Media Business Models- By the end of 2013, we learned that hyperlocal crowdsourced news wasn’t the answer (see The Fatal Error that Doomed AOL’s Patch). I doubt 2014 will be the year that everything changes for newspapers although I wish Jeff Bezos the best. Sadly, I think we’ll continue to see newsroom cuts and media consolidations in the year ahead.

Marquee reporters on staff – 2013 was a doozy of a time for top-of-the-pack journalists to leave their long-time jobs. David Pogue departed the New York Times for Yahoo; Dan Lyons left Forbes to work at HubSpot and theWall Street Journal said goodbye to Ben Worthen (who joined Sequoia Capital) and Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher (who moved to NBC).

Social Media Faux Pas – It’s not a new lesson (see my 2011 post, Is Tweeting Hazardous to Your Job?), just one that we seem to re-learn each year. Justine Sacco is 2013’s Tweeting Before Thinking poster child.

Critical online reviews – In this criticism of BuzzFeed’s new policy not to publish negative book reviews, Maria Bustillos suggests that BuzzFeed will therefore become a source of “mere publicity” -or even worse – “a tool for monetizing everything and erasing the line between advertising and editorial content.” Other online review sites – Yelp, Amazon, among others – have faced this issue in the past and consumers have adjusted their expectations for perspective and credibility accordingly when visiting these sites.

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on You can find her at www.kprcommunications.comLearn more about Alison Kenney.


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