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3 Digital Trends for PR Students to Embrace in 2011

Over the break, Ginny Soskey and I had the opportunity to visit the New York office of PR firm Edelman.

Interested in learning more about digital innovations and trends in the industry, we found ourselves meeting with Steve Rubel, Senior Vice President and Director of Insights for Edelman Digital.  In this position, Mr. Rubel studies trends and innovations in media, technology, and digital culture.  He then fuses them into actionable insights that help Edelman and its clients remain at the forefront of their industry.

As we spoke with Mr. Rubel, he told us about 3 digital trends affecting PR in the next year (The full list of 11 emerging digital trends, with company examples, can be found here).  They were:

  • Digital Curation: The plethora of content will give rise to digital curators who can separate art from junk.
  • Thought Leadership: If there’s one constant it’s that humans crave stories. Technology creates new expectations.
  • Transmedia Storytelling: Companies recognize they must activate credible individual expert voices that can create content.

Although these three trends were created with companies in mind, students can also utilize them as well.  Here are some examples:

  • Digital Curation: Twitter allows you to share valuable and insightful information with your followers.  Industry leaders, such as Mr. Rubel, constantly post articles they feel are valuable for those following.  As a student curator, tweet out relevant and industry related information.  It’ll show you care and that you know what’s important.  It may even land you an internship or job.
  • Thought Leadership: While sharing information is important, sharing your opinions is even more crucial.  Although you may not think of yourself as a “thought leader” yet, telling people what you think and backing up those opinions can help establish your credibility.  One of the hottest new social applications of the year is Quora, a Q&A site created, edited, and organized by its user base. Company CEO’s, such as Mark Cuban (entrepreneur, owner of the Dallas Mavericks) are utilizing the site to break down the barriers between themselves and their publics.  Their answers also give the people what they want – an expert opinion.  As students, Quora allows us to also answer questions and prove our knowledge about the topics we love.  We may not be “thought leaders” yet, but it doesn’t mean we can’t get a head start.
  • Transmedia Storytelling: With so many different mediums out there, students have the ability to brand themselves across the web.  In my previous two examples, I mentioned how Twitter and Quora can be utilized to benefit the student.  Your story doesn’t have to only be told by one application.  On the contrary, embrace more than one medium.  Find your outlets and use them to tell your personal story.  For example, use LinkedIn to show your career achievements, Quora to prove your problem solving capabilities, and Youtube to show those amazing public speaking skills.  Make yourself well rounded, not a one website pony.

Just like companies, PR students have to embrace and utilize digital trends in order to differentiate themselves from others in the field.  Digital Curation, Thought Leadership, and Transmedia Storytelling are three ways to help stand out from the crowd.