Looking into the PR crystal ball

This year promises to be exciting for the PR industry. We’ve seen some shifts happening over the last couple of years, and in 2016 these are expected to intensify.

The world-wide economy has forced agencies to become more creative with decreasing budgets. Clients expect us, as industry experts, to not only guide and consult, but also ensure that we provide a holistic approach to cut through the clutter and reach their consumers in engaging ways.

Here are a few trends we expect to see emerge or intensify in the industry this year:

The PR hybrid

In 2016 we will see PR and social media become synonymous with each other. We’ve seen the growing need over the last few years for these two spheres to work seamlessly together in order to achieve brand objectives. The emergence of ‘hybrid consultants’ will become more commonplace. These are PR consultants who are also skilled when it comes to social media and are able to advise on both disciplines.

Bloggers and influencers

The industry has moved away from only having editors from print publications in our rolodexes – don’t get me wrong, we can’t do our jobs without them – but added into the mix is a whole new breed of self-appointed critics and ‘journalists’ on our contact lists.

The prevalence of social media means that these ‘celebs’ are accessible to their fans and followers. Clients will realise more and more the value of investing in influencers who deliver high return on investment (ROI), and with ad-blockers (apps that block advertisements on websites) becoming the norm with consumers, native advertising and advertorials are some of the most effective ways for clients to get their message across.

It’s undeniable that in this age when people spend more time online than watching television, advertising in the traditional sense doesn’t hold the punch it used to, although it definitely still plays an important role. Consumers are now looking to their favourite websites, blogs and influencers with regard to making purchasing decisions, regarding these influencers as their peers and seeing them as credible. Thus, it is worth tapping into their audiences.

Short and sweet

One of the biggest take-outs of social media is that it’s a convenient manner for subscribers to read about their interests, catch up with their favourite celebrities or engage with brands in short bursts. Some may think that this is due to the average person becoming a bit lazier, but the reality is that the average person’s lifestyle is incredibly busy, leaving them with little time to read a full-page article or track down information to find out what’s happening in the world. They prefer to get the bullet points and carry on with their day.

This will lead to the following trend becoming bigger this year: short, interactive videos and thought-provoking images accompanying press releases aimed at grabbing the attention of the editor, influencer or blogger with whom public relations practitioners engage.

PR strategies will include social media platforms other than Twitter and Facebook. The recommendations will depend on what would work best for a client’s brand, and will vary from Snapchat, Instagram, Vine, and Shazam to Periscope. The uptake on new social media platforms in South Africa is slightly slower than in the rest of the world, but that gives us time to study what works and what doesn’t in different markets before we plunge in headfirst.

The second screen

According to a study done by Effective Measure, 81.5% of the population was accessing the internet through their smartphones in 2014, and only 18.5% doing the same by way of traditional methods, like desktops etc. This means that smartphones are no longer the so-called ‘second screen’, and haven’t been for a while, but are the primary screen to most consumers. We need to adjust our PR strategies accordingly.

Don’t underestimate the podcast

We predict that this year will be the year of the podcast. People lead unbelievably busy lives, as mentioned earlier, and they want to access information in the most convenient way possible. Listening to audio books has been popular for years, and now we have the podcast. It’s basically a spoken blog and there are thousands of them on every conceivable topic. It’s the ultimate in convenience, as they can be listened to in the car, at the gym, sitting at your desk at work and at home. It gives the consumer the freedom to multitask while listening.

In conclusion, PR is and will always be exciting, as it’s constantly evolving and adapting to the environment we find ourselves in. It is our job as consultants to keep our fingers on the pulse of pop culture and the new ways people are communicating, so we can provide our clients with expert advice and exceed their expectations. PR will continue to get more interesting over the next couple of years with virtual reality (VR) coming into the mix in the not too distant future, so remaining clued-up and prepared for action is a PR consultant’s way of life!

By Anne Dolinschek, Senior Account Manager

South Africa’s leading reputation management consultancy opens Zimbabwe office.

Magna Carta, South Africa’s leading reputation management consultancy is to bolster its already existing Africa network with the opening of an office in Harare- bringing to the country a consultancy that will offer local and multi-national companies in Zimbabwe access to a broad range of reputation management services.

The opening of the Harare offices will make Magna Carta one of the best represented firms of its kind on the African continent-  a reputation management consultancy that has over the last nine years created a 18-country partner network across the continent. Included in this network are consultancies in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Zambia, Angola and Mozambique.

“The opening of Magna Carta Zimbabwe with a full service office marks the fulfilment of a process that began months ago,” says Vincent Magwenya, CEO of Magna Carta.

In line with our philosophy of ensuring that we have strong local representation in each of the countries we serve we have obtained the services of Sapi Bachi as Managing Director, Magna Carta Zimbabwe.

“Initially, she will have the assistance of two staff, also Zimbabweans. The company will also enjoy the full support and strategic guidance offered by Magna Carta in SA. It is our intention that as the business grows, the necessary skills to operate across the entire spectrum of Magna Carta’s offering will be transferred to Harare.

“Our belief in the future of Africa extends to our confidence to the future of Zimbabwe and we see our expansion into the country as a natural step in further enhancing our representation in Southern Africa. The opening of a Zimbabwean operation will ensure that our existing multi-national client base with operations in Zimbabwe will now be able to utilise our services locally. Ms Sapi Bachi, Managing Director of Magna Carta Zimbabwe who has 15 years of experience in the Zimbabwean PR industry, said that local and international companies operating in all sectors across Zimbabwe would now have access to a full range of reputation management services, which will include advice on, digital communication, Investor Relations, Crisis Management, through to advising on the development of corporate positioning strategies and media relations.

“We are excited about the new Magna Carta presence in Harare. Magna Carta was born in South Africa in 1994, the same year that marked the birth of democracy. Since then it has evolved with the industry and has developed a range of expertise that transcend traditional and social media, evolving and growing with the rapidly changing information and media landscape.

“Most significantly for future clients, it is a company that reflects its African heritage through the understanding and experience gained from operating effectively across the multiple markets on the continent.  As a seasoned African consultancy that thinks globally, as attested to by the company being acknowledged as the Paul Holmes African Consultancy of the year 2013.

“As the exclusive African affiliate of Ketchum, a leading global communications firm with operations in more than 70 countries across six continents, and its long-standing relationship with TBWA\ South Africa and the greater TBWA\ global network, part of the Omnicom Group Inc., Magna Carta provides access to global best practice to its clients.

“Magna Carta therefore has a broad base of intellectual capital and skills that can be shared with us. We have no doubt that the opening of Magna Carta Zimbabwe will result in an agency that will leapfrog across existing practices in our country and bring a new dimension of professionalism and effectiveness to the communications industry,” concluded Bachi.

Magna Carta plants roots in Harare, Zimbabwe

Today marks an important and exciting milestone for the Magna Carta team: our Harare office celebrates its opening, marking the 18th country to form part of our award-winning pan-African consultancy network.

Over the past eight years, we have built a strong network of reputation management consultancies in some of the continent’s most promising countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Angola and Mozambique. All currently enjoy knowledge sharing and industry best practice through our exclusive African affiliation with Ketchum, a leading global communications firm, as well as our long-standing relationship with TBWA\ South Africa and the greater TBWA\ global network.

Our belief in the future of Africa extends to our confidence in the future of Zimbabwe, and we see this expansion as a natural step in further enhancing our representation throughout Southern Africa. The opening of this operation will also ensure that our existing multi-national client base with operations in Zimbabwe will now be able to use our services locally, which will include traditional PR, online reputation management and crisis management, according to Sapi Bachi, Managing Director at our Zimbabwe office.

I am confident that this latest venture will provide our firm with a broader network and more client relations opportunities, which will keep us ahead in the ever-changing communication industry.

Magna Carta South Africa CE @MagwenyaVincent, Zimbabwe Minister of Finance and Economic Development: Hon. P.A. Chinamasa and Magna Carta Zimbabwe MD @BachiSapi prior to the official launch of Magna Carta Zimbabwe.
Magna Carta South Africa CE @MagwenyaVincent, Zimbabwe Minister of Finance and Economic Development: Hon. P.A. Chinamasa and Magna Carta Zimbabwe MD @BachiSapi prior to the official launch of Magna Carta Zimbabwe.

For Further updates on the launch, please follow us on Twitter: @MagnaCarta_Zim and @MagnaCarta_RM

Vincent Magwenya,

CEO – Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants