With the New Year comes the usual round of articles on anticipated trends for the year ahead. The PR industry is no different. Only last week I read a number of articles from leading voices in our industry discussing the trends they’re tipping for 2018 – and if I’m honest, we’re no different – there’s a ‘top trends in crisis communications’ blog that has been sitting on my computer for a few weeks now just waiting to be finished.
From the resurgence of editorial, to the reverse land-grab from marketing to PR, the need for longer term relationships with influencers, or why now is the time to finally take millennials seriously – the challenges and opportunities are both numerous and exciting.
One issue barely mentioned is the importance of understanding your audience. It’s hardly surprising given as an industry we tend to pride ourselves on ensuring campaigns are rooted in audience insight. Yet in one respect we fail time and again.
Ask any regional PR agency worth their salt and they’ll tell you just how valuable their knowledge of the region they operate in really is. From the regular meetings and networking with leading influencers to first-hand knowledge of the issues and opportunities affecting brands and businesses in the area, including their own. Yet on a national level our industry is arguably poor at understanding the influencers and issues driving the media agenda outside of the M25.
I’ve seen it for myself. Regional media lists for large national campaign launches researched and developed at the eleventh hour, with little idea of who the journalists are or what they are interested in. Even if coverage is secured, the disservice to clients is real.
Research carried out by BDRC Continental last year sampled over 2,000 respondents from across the UK asking how they felt about 56 of the biggest brands in the country. The results showed that 47% thought the brands were out of touch with people in their local area, and people outside London were 11% more likely to agree with this statement. Non-Londoners were also 25% more likely to say brands don’t understand people in their local area.
But it’s not just research. We know since Brexit many brands, particularly those with a strong consumer base in the regions, have been looking beyond the capital with the aim of better understanding the interests, opinions and politics of a significant portion of their customer base. And with The Great Exhibition of the North set to be the largest event in England in 2018 and a game-changing moment for the North, there has arguably never been a more timely moment to address this issue and really get to know our regional residents and their media.
So, here’s my prediction… 2018 will be the year when the need to tackle this disconnect with regional audiences truly becomes apparent and the opportunity for regional PR and marketing agencies to help shape the debate with clients on a national level will emerge.
At Karol, we’re one of five agencies across the UK who have joined together to form the Hyperlocal Everywhere Network. Together we’re not only able to offer national reach, but national reach rooted in true regional expertise and insight. It’s a unique offer and one we’re proud of. To find out more – read: Karol selected to form part of new creative network
A thought piece from Vicky Ross at Karol Marketing – the forensic PR people