We were asked by Holland America Line to prepare a short overview piece that looks ahead to 2013 and some of the challenges and opportunities the line’s PR department is likely to face. It was an interesting exercise and gave us a chance to consider the PR landscape for the coming months.

Looking ahead to 2013, we can expect to see ongoing media coverage of Costa Concordia until the wreck is completely salvaged and the legal actions resolved. We also anticipate ongoing media coverage of cruise-related consumer and environmental issues as Congress increases its scrutiny of the industry.

The media landscape will likely continue to contract as more outlets increase their online presence or merge or go out of business. The importance and reach of social media will continue to grow and influence the way we communicate with journalists and consumers.

The changing media landscape also will have implications for the travel trade media, which is responding to the competition for breaking news by behaving more like consumer outlets than the industry-friendly publications of the past.

As our PR practice responds to these trends, we will need to speak directly to the public as well as journalists, build relationships with customers, treat Google as vital media, drive search traffic and communicate the benefits of the Holland America product where the market increasingly is — online.

Besides the traditional skill set of public relations, we will need to incorporate the new skills of online copywriting, web monitoring, search engine optimization, search marketing, multimedia content creation and web analytics.

Likewise, the way we approach crisis communications also must evolve to better meet the demands for instant information. We will likely have to rely more on social media in times of crisis, which means being prepared to respond quickly and manage engagement across multiple platforms.

In sum, as we move forward in a rapidly changing communications environment with diverse audiences, we will need to be more proactive, less risk-averse and more open to change to meet the demands of this new information era.

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