The Future of Content, and What it Means for PR

usc-annenberg-logoThe USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism recently released its Global Communications Report 2017, and it offers a number of interesting findings that affect the public relations and marketing industries.

One trend that has profound implications for public relations specifically is PESO – paid, earned, shared and owned – content. Historically, public relations has lived in the earned content box, but more than half of PR executives believe that in five years the average consumer will NOT make any distinctions among content that is paid, earned, shared or owned.

The consequences of this are enormous. As the report noted:

As we saw last year, the amount of revenue agencies generate from earned media will decline over the next five years, while revenue from paid, shared and owned will increase. Corporate media budgets are moving even faster towards owned and paid.

Supporting that direction, 60% of all PR executives believe that branded content and in influencer marketing, which are both primarily paid, will be important trends in the next five years. This is changing media mix creates an opportunity and a challenge.

The opportunity is to move aggressively into paid content, an arena long dominated by advertising. This will require PR professionals to master media buying, which currently ranks last on the list of skills they think are important to the future.

The challenge is more than half of PR executives believe the consumer of the future will not make a distinction between paid and earned media. Another one-third disagree. The answer to that debate has profound ramifications for everyone.

The cliché in business is that the only constant is change. If the Annenberg School’s report is correct, PR executives should be prepared to greatly expand their areas of expertise if they want to be successful.

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