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What is the future of Public Relations in the Caribbean?

The media landscape is transforming all over the world. A few years ago, we were creating weird, funny ads. Now, the new marketing trend is towards socially conscious advertising. Ten years ago, we were mostly excited (or annoyed) by website ads and pop-ups. Now, with smartphone technology, our ads can forever be at our consumers’ fingertips through their applications and social media platforms, not to mention the sponsored marketing content they see every day through sites like Instagram. With all this change, industry experts are predicting what the PR field should expect to see in the future. It’s always risky to try to become a futurist, but we’re still going to take a chance and share the things we think will shape the next few years of public relations.

It's a given that storytelling will develop to be the marketing focus. More and more brands are realizing that ads, in the conventional sense, don’t work. But stories, in all their various forms, connect with audiences every time. Think Machel Montano’s clever song for Caribbean Airlines, it was much more interested in the reasons why you fly than who you fly with. Another excellent example is Stag Beer’s latest ads promoting positive masculinity. When you do it right, your consumers will associate your brand with the important stories that it tells, and hopefully support you telling more of them.

Of course, that means the trend will be consumers calling for more accountability. Whether they’re calling out brands for tasteless business practices or asking companies to be more transparent about their corporate social responsibility practices Consumers are becoming more thoughtful about what companies they support with their hard-earned dollars. While many may say that consumers in the Caribbean aren’t particularly good at boycotting badly behaving brands, that doesn’t change the fact that your brand will take a hit if you appear to be on the wrong side of the future.

Then there’s IGTV. When it first launched, Instagram’s long-form content application didn’t really hit it off with their userbase. But now, with more deliberate integration with their core app, creators have evolved their content specifically for its format. Which presents two interesting opportunities – for companies to develop longer video content that lives on Instagram, and to partner with IG influencers in newer ways. If you’re asking ‘why IGTV and not YouTube’, just ask yourself how much time you spend scrolling through Instagram. Huge difference, right? Exactly.

There aren’t a lot of platforms that are making a new impact as of late. Applications like Facebook and Instagram seem to share the Throne of the social media kingdom, which is why IGTV looks to be the future of social apps. But that means public relations managers need to keep their eyes out for the next big social media platform. It could be the rebirth of platforms like Tumblr, or new apps like Vevo. In fact, Vevo is a perfect example – even before its official launch, influencers around the world flocked to the app to gather a fanbase. Though it didn’t seem to last long, the app did start off with a bang that attracted a lot of attention. That should act as a sign for marketing and PR managers to stay on the lookout for new entries in the social space…but also still approach them all with a grain of salt.

Which brings us to the next big Caribbean PR trend – social media influencers. Of course, celebrities like regional music artistes and former pageant contestants do well on social media, but there’s room for digital content creators to develop their reach and lend it to brands in the same way we see in the US. The influencer market is already inching into its stride in spaces like Trinidad & Tobago, with tech vloggers like Devon X Scott, personalities like Shala868, and lifestyle influencers like Paris and Roxy James. And as more people take the plunge to develop consistent social media content, more brands will partner with them to be their grassroots ambassadors, instead of partnering with A-listers.

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