To succeed in our digital age, PR agencies must keep up to date regarding emerging market trends. That is often easier said than done since many of us have only just wrapped our heads around the nuances of social media. However, now is not the time for excuses. It’s the time for action.

Here are five things PR agencies need to future-proof—and the reasons why they will cast the biggest influence on our industry over the next 12 months.

1. Data use

The latest PRCA statistics show that PR agencies are feeling the pressure in terms of data use. A total of 52% of respondents predict that in five years, clients will be looking for more compelling evidence of ROI.

Data and analytics can provide the driving force a campaign needs to be successful; however, only a few agencies use data that way. PR agencies must become much more familiar with data, and they must know how to use it correctly to enhance communication, such as for forming insights on a particular campaign or predicting the outcomes of another.

Data analysis is also crucial to nailing ROI, and it's an important part of successfully navigating the challenges of the future.

2. Measurement of social media success

Too many PR professionals make the mistake of measuring social media success by solely focusing on "counting metrics," such as Facebook likes or Twitter retweets. PR agencies need to overhaul their social media strategy so that a campaign's appeared success reflects its true success. Agencies need to incorporate more meaningful indicators of success into their evaluations—such as engagement, referrals, and even sales—that are often ignored or under-used.

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image of Chris Norton

Chris Norton is the founder of Prohibition and co-author of the best-selling social media book Share This Too.

LinkedIn: Chris Norton

Twitter: @Chris_Norton