crystal-ball.jpgAt the start of the new year, we thought it might be interesting to see what some of our PR colleagues think will happen in the public relations industry in 2008. So we sent out a query on ProfNet and received some interesting prognostications.

One of the more far-out predictions came from Tina Kicklighter, vice president of public relations for the Robin Shepherd Group:

One of the major trends driving the public relations industry in 2008 will be virtual worlds. With Fortune 500 companies pouring billions of dollars into metaspace, public relations will be integral in transporting the virtual realm to mainstream consciousness.

Already market leaders like Domino’s Pizza attract customers who order a virtual pizza — and get a real one delivered! Nascar offers fans the chance to drive virtual cars around a virtual racetrack, ‘Playboy’ tempts with virtual ‘bunnies,’ Harvard offers real students virtual degrees, and the list goes on.

It’s interesting to note that both Reuters and CNET set up virtual news bureaus in Second Life in 2007.

For Wayne Schaffel, president of Public Relations Network, the more traditional practice will be emergent in 2008:

We will see strategic public relations come back to the forefront. Right now, there is a certain “placement at any cost” mentality. I see a return to objectives-based, results-oriented progams that help establish a company’s credibility and reputation rather than simply creating the next fad.

The technological advantages of cell phones, laptops and e-mail has run its course. Look for a return to real-world press kits with hard-copy releases, real photographs, real samples, real information, real envelopes and real stamps. Those who really know how to create news must re-learn the best ways to disseminate that information.

But Shel Horowitz, author of “Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First,” suggests using new media tactics merged with tried-and-true PR skills to get your message across:

More and more, consumer-journalists such as bloggers as well as social networks will shape the way our entire society frames news and feature stories.

Creative pitches that focus on the story behind the story will get more coverage, and traditional press releases will get less. Example: instead of “Electronic Privacy Expert Releases New Book” (Quick trip to the delete key!), “It’s 10 O’Clock — Do You Know Where Your Credit History Is?” (Tell me more!)

For Gina F. Rubel, Esq., president and CEO of Furia Rubel Communications, new technology breeds new business:

More and more consumers of products and services are turning to the Web. As a matter of fact, about 50 percent of our clients are referred through word-of-mouth or direct public relations outreach and the other 50 percent have come to us via the Internet.

Patty Briguglio, president of MMI Associates, Inc., suggests we seek to counterpoise old and new approaches:

In 2008 PR firms will need to create an effective balance between traditional PR and new media tactics. It is important to take advantage of the new media tools, such as podcasting and blogging, and to convey the value of these applications from a PR standpoint to your clients.

So there you have it, the future as PR practitioners see it. We’ll revisit this post in December to see who was the true oracle of 2008.