Thirteen Thoughts for Marketing & Communications in 2019

As we kick off 2019, it’s a perfect time to take stock and set priorities for the next 12 months (and beyond). The first step in this undertaking is deciding where and how to focus your attention: what are the areas and ideas you’d love to improve, develop or implement within your business’ marketing and communications? The team here at Tyto would like to offer a starting point with thirteen morsels to get you thinking, below.

From across the UK and Europe the team’s thoughts below represent what we believe to be the most important considerations heading into the new year.


Winning the reputation war

To win the reputation war you need an army. An army of authentically brilliant evangelists that represent your brand online and offline. In the past we thought brand first and spokespeople second, treating them simply as ambassadors for the cause. Today the situation is more nuanced because in today’s interconnected opinion hungry world people trust individuals more than brands. In 2019 successful companies will know who their thought leaders are, and they will do everything in their power to support them and nurture their talent through training and access to resources. – Contributed by Brendon


Empowering authentic brand influencers

While 2018 saw influencers small and big sell out their authenticity, now companies are considering their employees as corporate influencers. To do so companies need to orchestrate their employees without telling them what to say, but by setting a framework. Collectively personal accounts form a positive image of a company and give it a more human touch. When used rightly, employer branding and opinion forming profit highly from a social strategy that is more than a corporate account. A great examplewould be how Telekom reached trending topic on twitter with their Christmas event (and a YouTube video of their CEO baking cookies). – Contributed by Paula


Open and transparent crisis comms

In 2019 businesses need to be prepared for open and transparent crisis communication with all their key audiences. As a series of PR blunders in 2018 have shown, it has never been more important to be prepared when things go wrong. Fake news, smartphone videos from the public and offhand comments from executives can spread like wildfire, and businesses need to have a plan for how they will communicate and stay one step ahead of a crisis. – Contributed by Rebecca


Ignoring trends in favour of authenticity

In the comms industry, we often look for trends, or attempt to set them. Whichever it is, we do it to be part of the heard – be it as a follower or a leader. This year why not set this mindset aside and do what you want to do and what you think works best, regardless of what the current trend says is right and what is not. Don’t worry if the heard doesn’t follow either; you just do you. – Contributed by David


The rise of the nano influencer

The last few years we’ve seen a real obsession with influencer relations; in 2019, I predict we’ll begin to see quality over quantity. In a large proportion of cases – influencer marketing has been dominated by the brands willing to handover the most money to the celeb of the moment, often resulting in overly-staged, unauthentic and irrelevant sponsorship. However, what we’re seeing now is brands embracing data-driven insights and tailoring each campaign and brief as a result, in order to reach the right audience. Consequently, we’ll see more micro/nano influencers being used to convey messages to targeted audiences, and trust begin to rise within the influencer marketing industry. – Contributed by Lauren


Brands as contributors: Finding and communicating an authentic purpose

In 2019, possibly more than any time in recent history, businesses with genuine purpose and authenticity will be the ones to connect with and attract loyal audiences. It’s becoming increasingly questionable for organisations to focus purely on short-term profits, often to the detriment of employees, communities and environment. Businesses willing to get behind the issues of our time and genuinely contribute will find themselves outpacing the unwilling, no matter how large; particularly across reputation, engagement and perception. Brand stories should be planned in chapters, thought of in pages and experienced in sentences, but it’s the unshakable core plot where the value resides. – Contributed by Liam


2019, the year CSR moves from add-on to essential

In 2019, clients should be mindful of the growing school of thought that counters Milton Friedman’s 1960’s philosophy that the purpose of an organisation is not solely to make a profit. Many academics, such as Colin Mayer from Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, suggest that the purpose of business today is to produce profitable solutions to the problems of people and planet, not to profit from creating problems for people and planet. For marketeers, this means being clear on what your brand stands for and putting causes at the heart of campaigns. For communicators, it means finding a way of conveying that purpose in an authentic and meaningful way. CSR has long been an ‘add-on’ to communications; I think in 2019 we’ll see it playing an increasingly central and authentic role. – Contributed by Zoe


Measurement and evaluation reach maturity

I believe that 2019 is the year in which we will see the PR industry strive harder than ever before to get its ducks in a row when it comes to measurement and evaluation. For years the industry has flitted between different methods and sciences to demonstrate impact and ROI to clients, with varying levels of accuracy and meaningfulness. Yet, in my opinion, this topic which has historically generated competition between agencies is set to become the subject of an industry wide mission to develop a ‘best-practice’ standard. After all, only by all of us getting it right can we truly demonstrate that the PR industry takes measurement and evaluation seriously. – Contributed by Felicity


Re-establishing trust, respect and shared values through a core purpose

To build meaningful relationships, based on mutual respect and shared values, businesses need to believe in and work towards a purpose. Corporates that have a moral backbone and support making a positive change, will be the ones to succeed. This is especially vital for technology companies. 2018 saw some of the world’s largest tech companies take a reputational hit. It’s no longer enough to develop innovative tech, companies now need to demonstrate their company values with positive action. This should involve taking stock of what their values are, defining a purpose that aligns with these values and agreeing what the company is going to strive to achieve. For authenticity, the purpose needs to be actioned and the brand should live and breathe it. – Contributed by Holly


The opportunity among the blurring lines of paid and earned media

We’ve reached the point where it has become harder than ever to distinguish between earned and paid media coverage, as the lines continue to blur. Though this has indeed added an extra string to our bow as PRs by allowing us to control a message through a commercial relationship, we have also needed to quickly evolve with the publications that now operate in this way and develop a sound understanding of how these relationships impact on traditional editorial conventions. As we enter 2019, especially in the case of trade publications, clients’ awareness and understanding of this approach is only likely to grow in tandem with the demand for coverage of this nature, especially as we discover new strategies and opportunities for how we package the stories we tell. – Contributed by Connor


The secret comms can learn from its design-focussed cousins

I believe that it was PR that mastered the storytelling game – it’s been amazing to see how our colleagues in Advertising and Design learned from us during the last decade. What if we, as practitioners, take a leaf out of their books and explore our design comrade’s skills? Our distant cousins, Content Designers, grow in the Silicon Valley in companies like Google, Mailchimp. They boost the engagement process with little tricks that are easily applicable and provide massive results. The consumer, customer, customer or end user – whatever you wish to call them – is at the centre of the entire process. Their secret sauce: prototyping and testing. A practice to explore more in 2019. – Contributed by Gladys


The power of building your visual literacy

Looking forward in my field, I find it helpful to think of photography and video as being analogous to the written word. Visual literacy will become an increasingly important part of communication in 2019 and beyond and professionals will be expected to be highly visually literate. Educate yourself in visual media and culture and you will find that your communication, especially with the up-and-coming generation, will be strengthened. – Contributed by James


Got a story to tell? Change your working environment to boost creativity

2019 is likely to see the launch of new publications and social channels. Technology will continue to help us convey our ideas in new and interesting ways. But the one thing that will remain constant – and something we focus on constantly in PR – is the need to provide a compelling story. Unconstrained by the bustle and tensions of the office and commute, remote working can provide the perfect ambiance to focus and gain inspiration. This year, working away from the office should be considered as a necessity, not just a privilege. – Contributed by Charlotte