Healthcare PR agencies and other PR pros should already be familiar with the Cision brand—from media monitoring to vetting outlets for active pitching and outreach, Cision makes our lives easier and our work more targeted on a daily basis. This media giant also collects and analyzes some of the most important insights from its own customers each year, developing a benchmark report of the latest PR & Communications trends. Because we know you have limited time to review the latest eBook, we’ve highlighted some of the most important findings from its analysis of these key trends below.

The lines between PR and marketing will dissolve.
What does this mean for healthcare PR agencies and their clients? The report includes a great definition of the difference between PR and marketing: “The goal of public relations is to create awareness and trust. The goal of marketing is to create demand for our products and services.”

Healthcare PR agencies like Activate Health already provide a number of services historically provided by marketing—design, content, social, video, analytics. But who ultimately owns the brand? Truthfully, it’s a combination of both PR and marketing, and the lines between those functions will continue to blur into 2020 and beyond. USC Annenberg’s 2019 Global Communications Report says 51% of communicators expect more integration with marketing over the next 5 years. The functions have so much to offer each other—analysis of what’s working and what isn’t, data to inform attribution models, technology both teams can utilize and even moral support in the face of shrinking budgets.

Part of what this means is that healthcare PR agencies and other PR professionals need to ensure they can speak the language of marketing so they’re prepared in the years to come. It will be even more crucial to understand metrics, paid strategies, attribution, product positioning, technology, and most importantly, selling. (That’s also why it’s equally important to look for healthcare PR agencies that have a deep understanding of all of these areas—like Activate Health.)

Organizations demand more actionable earned media analytics.
What does this mean for healthcare PR agencies and their clients? According to the Gartner Annual CMO Spend Survey 2019-2020, 76% of marketing leaders say they “use data and analytics to drive key decisions,” but many still struggle to get this right. You need the right data to make smarter decisions. For example, Gartner found a “bias for volume metrics over value metrics.” Volume metrics, or what we sometimes call vanity metrics or counting metrics, help leaders understand high-level scope and performance. In traditional PR terms, that includes things like impressions and AVE (though the industry has been debating the death of AVE for more than a decade, it still lives on in many areas). That probably also includes counting hits or mentions. But without deeper context, those metrics aren’t very actionable. While it might be great that a business got 20 media mentions in a month, did any of that media coverage actually help increase awareness, or better yet, lead to a purchase? Value metrics, on the other hand, tell us more about what someone actually did, and what impact that action had on a business. For healthcare PR agencies and their clients, this includes engagement and conversions, true reach, and ultimately, revenue impact.

The media and influencer environment will evolve.
What does this mean for healthcare PR agencies and their clients? For a PR professional, it can be hard to keep up with media contacts, many of whom may move around frequently or write for multiple publications. Publications you used to get good coverage in, are acquired or shut down. Journalists are also under pressure to produce more content, and receive hundreds of pitches every week. Couple that with the increasingly complex role of social media in news. According to Pew Research, 62% of US adults say “social media companies have too much control over the mix of news that people see.” Concerns about fake news, misinformation and the negative impacts of microtargeting further complicate the relationship between PR and media.

And how about influencers? Despite some public setbacks, influencer marketing continues to grow. Business Insider estimates that the influencer marketing industry will be worth as much as $15 billion by 2022. Social influencers are still very important to any comms strategy. But there are millions of influencers—ranging from celebrities with 50 million followers to nano-influencers catering to a tiny but very niche audience. Influencer relations are made more complex because it’s another function that straddles healthcare PR agencies and their clients. Who truly owns the influencer relationship? All of this points to an evolution in the relationships communicators have with traditional media and social influencers. Communicators will need to be nimbler in maintaining these relationships, think about how they connect with individuals and be sure they’re continually providing value to keep relationships strong despite the changes and challenges.

This is just a sample of the full Cision report, which can be found here. If you’re vetting healthcare PR agencies to find a partner who can help you anticipate these trends and capitalize on new opportunities, we hope you’ll contact us today.