Creative Brand Communications

Online PR: 9 Online PR Trends for 09…..

Online PR trends for 2009 as compiled by Taylor Herring’s online team.

twitter1. Twitter may be three years old already, but at the start of 2009 it very much feels like we’re finally at the tipping point in terms of public awareness and uptake. Whether following real-time updates from global news events such as the Hudson River plan crash and Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration, or simply staying in touch with friends and business contacts (put simply, a ‘Tweet’ is similar to a Facebook status update) if you’re not already using Twitter now, chances are you will be soon. The imminent inclusion of an integrated Twitter Search function will broaden the scope of the site enormously: rather than just following the feeds of your established contacts, you’ll be able to see what the Twitter community thinks about any subject you choose. The potential and possibilities are limitless…

nokia_n9632. Mobile Optimisation. With the increasing ubiquity of smartphones like the iPhone and Nokia N96 will come a much higher demand for genuinely handset-optimised websites. During our recent Dido campaign for Sony BMG, we helped the record company raise awareness of their first ever iPhone-friendly artist website, which allowed iPhone users to access the full range of AV content available at whilst on the move. As the most frequently used function on smartphones is web-browsing, expect to see this happening on a much wider scale in 2009,

bebo_logo3. Social Network Integration. In 2008 the social network arena ballooned both in terms of sites available, and the size of the audience signing up and participating. In 2009 users are already looking for ways to personalize and simplify their own web presence further, with the holy grail being the platform that can allow social networking, email, search, media sharing, and other functions such as shopping and banking, all accessed via a single-login. Look out for big tie-ups between the social networks and other lifestyle services early in the year.

tmob4. Greater understanding of viral. The number of so-called virals appearing online increased significantly between 2007 and 2008, but many would-be practitioners have had to learn the hard way that a funny idea and/or a girl in a bikini does not a viral make. With more and more clips / games / quizzes / launched into the ether, most of which disappear more or less without a trace, there is more need than ever to understand what really makes a successful viral. As a rule of thumb – it should be funny, sexy, or useful. Ideally all three. The success of recent virals such as the T-Mobile Liverpool Street station dance and the Durex animals clip prove that when done right this is still an extremely powerful medium, and we predict more and more big name brands will go down this track in 2009.

facebook_5. Brand-wide social media optimisation. With an increasingly web-savvy population, brands can now communicate far more directly and personally with their target audience. A downside in PR terms is that the rapid growth of citizen journalism and social media is resulting in brands having to relinquish some control over their communications. For instance blogging, by either consumers or employees, can have a hugely negative impact on a brand’s profile, with the recent flurry of stories about employees of a certain supermarket chain sharing negative stories about customers on Facebook highlighting the need for even the biggest of brands to be aware that the smallest voice can end up being heard by a huge audience.

bbc_you_tube6. Online video delivery. It’s now hard to imagine the online world without Youtube, but the site is still only four years old. With web-users now not only comfortable with online video viewing, but actually hungry for more, better quality video, and often prepared to pay for it, 2009 is likely to see major players throwing their caps into the paid-for and on-demand ring. Simultaneous theatrical, DVD and online releases are surely just around the corner…

barack_obama7. Increased emphasis on ROI for digital PR. The economic downturn, and the tightened budgets that will naturally follow, will mean that decision-makers will  demand to know exactly how much bang they can get for the buck via online PR. Luckily, savvy marketeers understand that budgets go further online, and in many cases are channelling more money into the area, rather than less. From entertainment to politics – communications managers are placing a greater importance on this area than ever before.

8. Politics. To date British government and political operatives have been slower than their US counterparts to make the most of the online sphere. 2009 is likely to see all parties dramatically increasing their presence and spend in this area – individual blogs such as David Cameron’s have been an interesting start, but it won’t be long before we see properly executed political viral campaigns in the UK.

blog9. Privacy issues. As recent stories involving celebrities and their social network profiles have shown, news-hungry journalists are not afraid of using supposedly personal information to create public stories. With rumours and stories flying around constantly of high-profile figures using aliases to enjoy the benefits of sites like Facebook, Bebo and blogs dedicated to unmasking them, it’s surely only a matter of time before a really big name is uncovered doing something they shouldn’t – and then will come the argument as to whether the press has a right to be investigating in this sphere anyway.

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