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Five PR trends to look out for in 2018

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Falz

The outgoing year has been an interesting one for PR professionals and brands across Nigeria. It’s the year that many brands saw a need to tighten their belts – because of the recession that gripped the nation – choosing instead to find innovative ways to reach their target audiences on a budget.

It was not out of place to see brands demanding more from their PR agencies to achieve the same result, if not more, as when there was ‘surplus’. For young, creative agencies like ours, it was a challenge welcomed – after all, our job is to make things happen for clients.

Allow me to run you through a few trends to look out for as we inch ever so closer to 2018.
Content Marketing: As audiences across board get educated on the quality and quantity of the products they are interested in, brands now have a higher responsibility to get through to them in ways that do not involve direct marketing.

This is where Content Marketing comes in. Defined as a strategic approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — Content Marketing involves the creation of videos, tweets, blogs and Facebook posts with a view to achieving increase in financial revenue of the company.

Several types of content resonate with audiences globally but humourous, inspirational, and aspirational content draw the attention of a large portion of Nigerian audiences. Content providers like Lasisi Elenu, Emmanuella, Ebiye, Maraji, Wofai Wada, Funke ‘Jennifer’ Akindele, FalzTheBahdGuy, SLK Comedy and others have taken over the landscape as more and more brands use their platforms to amplify messages. They effectively leverage on the huge followership that that these influencers provide to push theirs.

With Instagram comes content that mirrors what traditional advertising has done over the years which is to present consumers with images of successful people living the life that we dream of. It’s common these days to show more than a passing interest in the lifestyle and products used by celebrities and social media influencers who are blazing the trail in popular culture.

These content forms constitute the foundation of many impressive ideas and campaigns in 2017, and I expect these to increase in the year ahead.

Budget spending will continue: Moving into the new year, I expect it to be more of the same as 2017. Though brands will be a bit more relaxed – since the economy is technically out of recession – they will continue to be circumspect when spending on selected campaigns.

This year has proved to brand custodians more than ever what they have always known; that creativity and thinking outside the box trumps everything, including campaign spend. So they will tend to expect more for less. This is surely not a bad thing for the industry as it will serve to engender innovation and competition, which in turn improves the PR landscape in Nigeria.
Even more than before, brands and PR agencies need to ask themselves critical questions such as; ‘What better way can we execute this campaign?’, ‘Is there anything we can do differently?’, ‘Does campaign express the full complement of our brand essence to consumers?’ etc.

The rise and rise of Influencer Marketing: Influencer Marketing is still very much around – and it will be a long while before it shows any sign of leaving. The reason being that audiences value third party endorsements of products and services. Folks across diverse demography are still somewhat susceptible to pressure from peers when it comes to making buying decisions on any product.

More importantly, a critical part of making a decision is knowing that someone noteworthy has used the product and certified it good-to-go. That is why influences like Funke Akindele, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Toke Makinwa, Banky W, Adesuwa Etomi-Wellington, Ebuka Uchendu, and others will continue to demand top dollar in pushing your product.

One thing to note however, is that brands need to better match their brand values with that of the influencer so as not to confuse consumers. Any perceived dissonance in this regard may cause audiences to tune off from the messaging.

Mobile is the way: According to a Jumia commissioned report released in April, the number of Nigeria’s mobile subscribers has reached 150 million, while the number of internet users has climbed to 97.2 million at penetration rates of 81 per cent and 53 per cent respectively.

The mobile revolution is showing no signs of stopping with more and more people getting connected to the internet owing to the relatively low cost of smartphones and browsing data. This means that brands who adopt a mobile first strategy will effectively reach their target audiences faster than the ones who don’t.

Thought leadership: This is also a growing aspect of the PR industry this year. Thought leadership can be leveraged upon to effectively position company executives with industry knowledge, experience, and insight portraying them as forward thinking and visionary.

It will also play a large role in shaping perception of brands next year, but the little twist to this is that brands with global outlook have identified the need to extend the thought leadership pool to exceptional staff in the lower rungs of the organizational ladder.


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