How important is it for you as a PR pro and to your role at an agency to be able to spot up-and-coming trends?
If you are one of those people who have the magic touch, then it’s a part of the client relationship you thrive on, and if not, you probably aren’t even sure that you want to learn how.
But in the age of social media it’s not enough to just keep up and be part of a conversation you need to be the one starting them! This is a skill you will see leading PR agencies and individuals owning because bing able to spot emerging trends and viral opportunities is needed in order to stay ahead of the game and differentiate yourself.
The good news this isn’t a sixth sense you need to be born with and the bad news is there is no magic bullet but this is something that can be learned and as you gain more experience something you can even becomes good at!
So if this isn’t a natural trait of yours how can you get better?
1.Talk To People
And we don’t mean by attending more industry events where you are talking to other communication experts. We are talking about people outside of your own field!
When you get out of your comfort zone and talk to people outside of your industry and really talk to them, not just ask
What do you do?
because you have to but because you want to listen and learn- that’s when your trend spotting senses need to go into hire gear.
When you start to have these interactions with people outside of PR and marketing you will be surprised by what types of ideas they share and how easily they can spark one of your own. While the client you are working with might have NOTHING in common with their business they might share something that translates and becomes the next big thing in your client’s industry.
The best things about trends is they are not industry specific and by being hyper focused and monitoring only one industry you could actually be hurting yourself. It’s when you have enough of these conversations you will be able turn one or two of them into a successful (trend-starting) campaign!
2. Follow Your Audience
When working with a client or pitching to a potential one you are going to want to learn everything you can about that one industry! But what if you took it a step forward and learned everything about their audience?
Spend a lot of time looking at your client’s target audiences patterns and habits. From their purchases, to what they search for online, to the bloggers and influencers they follow on social. How they spend their money and where they spend their time is a great indicator of what’s gaining traction. And as you start to notice a core group looking or buying the same things you can identify up-and-coming trends for this client.
This is why is pays off to pay close attention to the audience instead of the industry itself!
Is This Really A Trend?
The scary part about being new to trend-spotting is not being sure if it’s a trend or just something new.
It’s important to note there is a difference between trending topics and PR trends. Trending topics might be what you see on the side of your Twitter or Facebook feed. These are conversations or pieces of news a lot of people are showing interest in but that doesn’t mean #XWZ is the next big trend.
A trend will have a more genuine feel, and you will have enough data to support it. If it feels like it’s something sparkly that caught your attention then that’s probably all it is. Continue to watch and analyze data and don’t forget to ask the most important question:
What kind of successful outcomes could this bring my client?
And just like with anything else in PR there could be negative trends and those are NOT conversations you want to be a part of. For instance, if you are in the airlines industry and noticing the trend of terrible news, memes, and videos for all things United Airlines it might be tempting to play off of that but it’s best if you stay out of it. Joining those types of conversations can go south quickly and no trend is worth your reputation!
Wrap It Up
It’s vital that PR pros spot trends and patterns that are emerging on all different kinds of channels and for every client they have.
Nothing will reassure your client more than when you make them a part of a conversation that is s picking up, not once it’s already been picked up.
We aren’t saying you have to predict what will be the next Uber but we think you can learn the right skills, be a part of the right conversations and make meaningful contributions that will all lead you to spot the next trend!