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  • Writer's pictureRachel Tetreault

Three ways the PR industry will change in the next five years

Updated: Apr 20, 2021

Public relations is a fast-paced industry that is constantly changing and evolving. Not surprisingly, the role played by PR practitioners and the demands of clients and publics are continuously being reshaped and modified. We have all seen how the global pandemic, the calls for racial justice and equity, and the belligerent presidential election required practitioners and organizations to make substantial changes to the way they operate and communicate with key publics. There is no doubt that a lot has changed in just one year. These significant shifts bring us to an important question: What will the industry look like in five years?

Elizabeth Pecsi, a public relations professor at San Diego State University, believes that in the next five years we will see significant changes in the way that practitioners measure success. In the future, the measurement of success will largely depend on the strength of the relationships that organizations develop with consumers and employees. Pecsi believes that the industry will focus more on the intimacy between a brand and its consumer rather than focusing on the marketing aspect of the brand.

“We must hold relationships in high esteem and perform our work holistically and strategically on behalf of our organizations, clients and profession,” said Pecsi.

Relationships must become more important than the product. Brands must become more inclusive and diverse in order to achieve this goal of maintaining relationships. With this in mind, Laarni Dacanay, Senior Communications Consultant at TIME, believes that due to this social change, the PR industry must become more inclusive and maintain diversity and inclusivity throughout the industry.

“My suggestion is to keep moving toward a more diverse, equitable and inclusive industry,” stated Dacanay. “If the industry does not, it will fail. We all need to do our part to make a conscious effort in doing this -- for without diversity in PR, the messages will not reach audiences and the industry will lose. It will lose talent, opportunities and financial wellness.”

A second trend that both Pecsi and Dacanay see happening to the PR industry within the coming years, is that it will become more technologically advanced. As virtual reality and augmented reality continue to mature, they will transform storytelling and how publicists engage with organizations.

“A wide array of digital platforms and apps will continue to evolve,” stated Pesci. “Figuring out how to responsibly and ethically use artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual events (virtual reality), and interactive storytelling will play a bigger role in communicating.”

A third trend that Dacanay believes will happen in the next five years to the PR industry is the need for more sustainable efforts.

“I am hoping that there is a real effort to building sustainability into our PR/communications efforts,” stated Dacanay. “Similar to what we are seeing in this movement of social change, the reality of climate change and environmental justice is also core to this conversation. [...] Regardless of what industry you are in, being a responsible global citizen is going to be a top priority, if it isn't already. Plus, consumers and employees will be demanding companies to be responsible. We see that now with the Gen Z and Millennial generations -- that will only become louder and a must in the future.”

The PR industry continues to evolve before our eyes. Adapting to these changes and embracing new realities will help the industry remain relevant and successful in the years to come.

By Rachel Tetreault

Rachel is an Orange County native but is currently going to San Diego State University. She is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations with hopes to work for a non-profit organization that gives back to her community either here in San Diego or in Orange County. After she builds the experience in this field, Rachel wants to pursue a law degree.

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