It’s the start of 2018, and many PR pros are sharing their clients’ industry predictions with media. The idea of your client making predictions about what’s ahead over the next year sounds simple, right? After all, your clients live and breathe this type of thinking all year long, which means you’re sure to start the year with plenty of compelling pitch ammo.
However, as PR pros, we know that in reality creating predictions with clients is always more complicated than we ever anticipate. Whether it’s clients pushing for teams to pitch with watered-down sales jargon or PR teams pushing clients to get behind over-the-top angles that don’t map back to the company’s goals, coming up with media-worthy predictions with your client can be tense (and possibly result in many versions of edits between you and your client).
But this isn’t our client’s fault. I’ve realized that this is a problem that PR pros have created, and we need to do a better job of defining to clients what constitutes a compelling and pitchable prediction. If you’re deep in the weeds of making predictions for 2018, take a step back from pressing send on that email requesting predictions from your client. Instead, take a quick read below on how to speak to your clients about predictions and what to ask your clients for — here are four quick rules for winning at 2018 predictions.
Rule #1: Don’t expect immediate ink. Before you even start creating predictions with clients, be sure to discuss the actual purpose of prediction pitching, which is to build credibility with a reporter and sustain their interest for the long term. While, yes, it’s great that your client might get a small mention in a round up of experts, there is a bigger end game in play. Reporters get flooded with so many year-ahead and end-of-year review pitches — they can’t possibly use them all in one article. Instead, some reporters actually build their editorial agenda based on outlooks that companies send. These ideas can give a reporter a good sense of what to consider writing about (and advocating for to their editors) over the next year. With that in mind, make sure your clients’ predictions are compelling enough to matter or coincide with industry happenings throughout the year.
Rule #2. Work backward. Instead of asking your clients what they think will happen in their industry over the next year, start by asking them what won’t happen. From there, you can also build assumptions on key elements that are more likely to happen in 2018.
Rule #3: Cut the self-service. Pitching predictions is not the time to stick to company messaging or sales talk. It’s a time to explore to new theories, unique perspectives and edgy ideas that would cause the average industry reader to click on a headline. This doesn’t mean you should create predictions that are far-fetched or unrelated to what your client actually does — it just means that you should nix all predictions that are salesy and self-servicing. For example, a streaming company predicts cord cutting will kill pay TV, a security company predicts that cyber attacks will cripple businesses, a mobile provider predicts that mobile devices will be the chosen for consumers and more. While this sounds like great news for sales teams, these predictions will not result in earned media opportunities or long-term interest.
Rule #4: Share specifics. Media is more likely to cover your client’s insight if it’s specific and useful for readers. For this one, suggest your client think like a market analyst. For example, an artificial intelligence company predicts that 2018 will be the year that data privacy and ownership will become standardized — and the AI company shares reasons why this will happen, who the key players will be, how companies and regulators can go about navigating and preparing for this change, the financial impact it could have on businesses and more. This type of prediction would pique a reporter’s interest because it not only provides an opportunity to write a tactical story about how to prepare for standardization, but also allows the reporter to expose reasonable threats and opportunities that AI companies and users should consider. A specific prediction always shares something useful that offers tangible insight to the reader on the impact a prediction will have or how to adjust or prepare for a prediction.
To get the creativity flowing, below is a list of industry predictions done right. Take note of how they’re positioned and the specific insight they provide.
TechCrunch: Ten predictions for digital media in 2018
Fast Company: AI Dominated 2017. Here’s What’s Coming Next
Written by Natalie Townsend, Senior Account Manager
SHIFT Communications, sister company of NATIONAL Public Relations