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Will digital kill the PR star?


This article was originally published on

With digital now the primary medium for consuming news and information, it’s safe to speculate that by 2025 print publications will be considered another relic of the bygone age of paper.

Newspapers and magazines – the sort you turn page-by-page with your fingers – are dwindling in circulation. Increasingly, it’s less a question of “if” than “when” they will cease to be relevant.

But what will it mean for those of us in the business of developing and delivering corporate communications? Here are four areas that firms will have to consider for a largely print-free era.

Sharpen Messaging (3)First, many firms will have to sharpen their messaging, particularly in announcements. This is because news reporting is likely to become even quicker, giving communications people even less time to respond and shape the message subsequently.

The speed of interaction with a digitally-focused media will be further accelerated by more publishing being done on mobile devices, while greater use of automated software to produce articles will reduce the level of engagement overall.

It will still be critical for communications professionals to have relationships with journalists and pick up the phone. But they will need to pay greater attention to preparing crystal clear messaging to shape the initial reporting online, as it will become much harder for them to reach an increasingly fragmented media often publishing from home or on the go.

Visual Presentation (1)Second, the visual presentation of corporate announcements will become even more critical. In fact digital media could liberate companies to bring their brand communications further to life.

This is partly as they will be less restricted by the limited space of print publications, providing greater scope for pictures, infographics, line graphs, charts or videos online.

Therefore, the onus will be on companies to be even more creative in the ways they present content.

Comms Delivery (1)Third, companies will have to reconsider how they deliver their communications. This will mean a greater emphasis on video and social networks, particularly if a company wants to target younger customers. Companies will have to make their content more interactive, such as click-through from images to sections of a presentation or even to demonstrate their latest services or ‘shoppable’ apps. Going forward, it will become essential for this content to be mobile-friendly or suitable for internet-enabled TVs.

Video content will also become far more pervasive by 2025 and companies will need to deliver shorter, punchier messaging, with CEOs or chairman speaking for no longer than 40 – 60 seconds to capture even the shortest of attention spans.

Self-publishing (1)Finally, self-publishing is set to become an increasingly important part of strong communications. However, compared with today, firms will need to be much clearer about what they write in what will be an increasingly crowded market for self-publishing.

Long discursive pieces are likely to get lost. Companies will need to distinguish themselves with interesting facts or data, as well as a strong narrative that says something new.

This does not mean that all self-publishing will need to be short and profound but companies will need to tailor content more specifically for their target audiences across multiple digital channels.