Public relations in 2020

Predicting how public relations would have changed by 2020 was the final task of the CIPR Diploma group I taught at Cardiff on Saturday.  Using a traffic light approach of what will have stopped, what will change and what will start, based on existing trends – the guys identified the following:

  • In the face of increased activitism and more demands on public relations, we might be less responsive to all audiences and make greater use of technology for routine, technician level matters

  • If diversity of society continues to increase, rather than being able to address everyone as individuals, we may need to look for commonalities or universal truths that relate to everyone, but more multi-lingual communications would be evident with politically correct language increasingly mainstream

  • Greater demand for responsibility, combined with more connected publics, will see it harder for organisations to hide bad practice and behavioural standards (both voluntary and legally required) will increase

  • A more strategic role for public relations was envisaged with an enhanced need to anticipate change and develop adaptive strategies

  • This role will need to offer ethical counsel, and be skilled in mediating relationships, including more consultation via online media

  • Specialist teams working within PR that provided 24:7 global monitoring and rapid response were predicted

  • PR would be a more pervasive skill used by a greater range of bodies, including individuals and currently marginalised communities

  • Finally, the guys felt professional qualifications and being accredited to a body such as the Chartered Institute of Public Relations was inevitable

 Nothing too radical, but certainly challenging the current view of many in PR who are stuck in the timewarp of distributing press releases and linear planning.  What do you think is likely to face us in 2020?

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

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