I recently returned from the PRSA Counselor’s Academy spring conference and am full of inspiration and ideas for the agency. A reoccurring theme throughout the conference, expectedly, was the further integration surrounding social media.

As public relations and social media continue to work hand in hand, we’re on the lookout for the latest trends and issues. Here’s what I see as emerging priorities this year:

  1. Social networking overload will cause people to trim their connections and begin to explore smaller circles and groups, making it more difficult and critical for marketers to make strong relationships now. Startups are attempting to fragment the market and take advantage of the trend to narrow an individual’s broadcast preferences.
  2. Businesses will learn how to make better sense of available data. Online, mobile and social data is an endless stream of a marketer’s dream. However, most businesses don’t know how to collect it or make sense of it. The measurement market will continue to consolidate and other players will emerge to help businesses make better decisions based on consumer actions.
  3. Consumers will begin to protect their data and their information. Right now, consumers have a passive interest in their online privacy. However, with the continued media attention and examples of data mining, consumers will realize they are sharing too much and too often.
  4. Your mobile phone will be the (even more) center of your universe. More than a business tool, consumers rely on their mobile devices for photos, videos, constant communication and as the device that controls all of their technologies. Businesses are experimenting with the best ways to reach consumers on their devices and to move them to mobile commerce purchasing.
  5. Media are still trying to figure out how to make money and where to publish content. Traditional media are slow to react, not known for innovation and lacking a solid business model. Watch for paywalls, new forms of advertising and social networking experiments as media try to find their way.
  6. Location-based services will change how consumers will travel and shop. From checking in to finding special offers from retailers, location-based services will expand to recommendations and social tools for business and leisure travelers.  Businesses are still experimenting with the best way to use these tools.

The Counselor’s Academy also included many sessions on the PR profession, including values, transparency and strategy. Overall, the conference was full of useful information and examples to build successful public relations agencies.

— Janet Tyler is co-founder and president of Airfoil Public Relations, a high tech PR agency with offices in Detroit and Silicon Valley.