Technology is constantly evolving and pushing societal boundaries as we know them, with new trends coming to light every year. These trends become top subjects – new buzzwords, new beats, new conference tracks– that take over the tech industry; new companies and innovators aiming to disrupt the new spaces hop out of the darkness. And in turn, a new wave of PR opportunity, challenges and successes emerge.

Where we’ve been:

For a solid two to three years, early in my career, PR launches were focused on all things mobile – apps for each device, new advanced features, new apps for literally anything – but over time, those trends tired out and became a must have, not a new and noteworthy story. Then we hit the wave of crowdfunding – hardware campaigns anyone could invest in were a hit – but the lack of shipping products and rags to riches to rags again stories, left the market fatigued and disillusioned. 2016 was all about artificial intelligence. Everyone was “doing it” but no one really understood what they were saying – they just wanted in on the action. We saw huge successes with companies like Google, Microsoft and Maluuba, but today AI has become less significant unless it’s something drastically different or new. We’re also seeing different levels of the technology arise like deep learning and NLP, but many established are straying away from using the term “AI” because the space is so noisy – machine intelligence is our new go-to.

2017 kicked off as the unofficial year of chatbots. With Facebook Messenger’s easy-to-use platform, it’s no surprise that they spiked in popularity with companies and influencers. It was a simple way to add basic AI to a company’s bill. Some chatbots succeeded, some failed – as is typical with many emerging technologies – but the trend has continued into the year. In the latter half of 2017, ICOs also blew up as Bitcoin stole the limelight – there were more this year than ever before, and it’s the first time we’ve seen reporters with an ICO beat and publications like Fortune and MIT Technology Review launch their own blockchain channels.

PR, as a result, has needed to shift the way it works with each trend. As we’ve progressed through these stages, telling interesting stories has become easier, and telling not-so-great stories has gotten harder. Launch strategies have changed and we’ve loosened the reigns a bit on what can/can’t be done before an official launch, but the goal still stays the same: get a killer story. Companies trying to break into the spaces of AI, chatbots and ICO have faced more challenges due to increased competition and reporter fatigue. At the end of the day, the companies who locked in meetings with media were the ones with unique, proprietary technology, a founding team with impeccable expertise or an absurdly interesting use case or customer that set them apart from all the rest.

Media expectations have changed over the years as well. It’s becoming harder and taking more time to secure deep, thoughtful stories because so much more vetting occurs on the media side. Editors and reporters are growing more wary about what they cover as they fight the masses of fake news, failed products and questionable CEOs. But this is a good thing. Gone are the days of cool parlor trick apps or device – the future will be focused on who’s doing what for good, how and why. And those are the best stories to read, and the most fun to tell.

Where we’re going:

 In 2018, I think ICOs will continue to grow in popularity and success; bitcoin and blockchain are still relatively unknown territories and there’s plenty of exploring still to come – at least until the bubble pops.  Autonomy will stay a steady subject but in smaller ways; new software features will emerge and we’ll start seeing it baked into more services and products, creating new narratives to enrich the autonomy story beyond the holy grail of the self-driving car.

On the PR front, the media strategy should continue to stay the same. Why reinvent the wheel just because a new vertical is not fully understood or absorbed? PR should continue to focus on telling the story about a needed solution to a problem, not one about someone taking action just for the sake of doing so.

But don’t get me wrong – PR is still changing in many ways, and will continue to do so into 2018. Print is dying and press releases are falling out of fashion. Media tours are losing their appeal – people no longer have time to set aside a few days to take meetings. Publications are losing interest in exclusives and becoming more specific about story requirements in the wake of fake news. More reporters are covering social issues than ever before, and writers now care less about being the first to cover fresh news. Instead, they care more about unique storylines, access and details to demonstrate why something matters and how it works. Data will continue to be king, and stories that demonstrate how tech is playing a positive role in society will rule.

If there’s one key thing PR needs from a company in order to succeed in 2018, it’s this: tell an interesting story. Have an epic idea, driven by both passion and proof points combined. You need to be doing something unique in order to get coverage, particularly if you’re in a crowded space – key word here is doing. Your idea is fantastic – sure, maybe it could change the world – but have to have data to back it up. Ideas are a dime a dozen; real world execution is rare and impressive. With a remarkable story, the possibilities are endless whether it’s 2018 or 2055.