Key PR & Marketing Takeaways from 2022
As 2022 comes to a close, leaders in every industry are reflecting on yet another “unprecedented” year of changes and challenges. If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re doing the same.
I can attest, as a business owner myself, that the tides have changed for everyone. Consumer prices spiked in the U.S. as global inflation rates rose. Hospitality surged past pre-pandemic levels as travel returned. Elon Musk completed his Twitter takeover, and disgruntled concert-goes inspired a DOJ investigation of Ticketmaster’s dominance of event admissions. All the while, geopolitical issues abounded as the war in Ukraine sparked a global energy crisis and protests erupted in China and Russia.
Now, as the dust settles on a post-COVID-manic world, brands in every sector must adapt, take stock of their industry positioning, and prepare for another unpredictable year ahead. The possibility of a global economic recession is looming and many brands are — understandably — taking great care as they plan their marketing budgets and business priorities for the new year.
The advice I give to my own clients is this: Listen to your strategic communications partners. It’s critical for brands to take stock of their preparedness and agility ahead of Q1. Check in with your public relations and marketing teams to ensure they are set up to improve your bottom line. And empower your agency partners to pivot and accommodate whatever social, political or economic hurdles might arise in 2023.
I’ve written about these trends often throughout the past year. To help you prepare for the next one, here’s a recap of the key PR and digital marketing industry trends I expect will continue.
Press Releases Remain a Valuable Marketing Tool
The press release is one PR tool that has stood the test of time — and for good reason. They work. A good strategic PR partner will know how to steer your announcement strategy and release content to meet your unique business goals. At baseline, a press release demonstrates that your company takes the announcement within it seriously, which encourages reporters to take notice.
Press releases also empower your brand to control the narrative content of a news announcement, delivering your key messaging points directly to the reporters who might cover your story. Coupled with a targeted media outreach strategy, a press release can drive valuable media coverage for your brand.
And as technology has evolved, the role of the press release has evolved with it. Today, as SEO and search engine marketing become increasingly complex to navigate, press releases hold new relevance. They enable your brand to include important SEO keywords and hyperlinks, to drive more visibility to your announcement and steer views back to your website. When distributed via wire services, they’re quite effective at improving your optimization strategy.
For a closer look at how to produce an effective press release in 2023, you can read my article on the topic in Entrepreneur.
Brands Should Pay Close Attention to the State of the News Media’s Credibility
The credibility of the news media is at an all time low, especially in the U.S. (There’s even research to back that up.) Traditionally, the media has been a trusted source of information. As a result, businesses have historically relied upon the third-party credibility of relevant media platforms to build trust and visibility for their brands.
If the credibility of the media continues to decline, the reputation-building power of PR will suffer — making it even more difficult for brands to build credibility.
In 2023, companies will need to pay close attention to the news media outlets they are utilizing to promote their brands. Outlets that take a transparent approach to reporting garner more trust than those that focus too heavily on commentary or political slant. Your PR partners should consider the audiences your brand wants to target, and focus on securing coverage with the outlets that your customers find to be most credible.
I covered this dilemma extensively in a recent article for Newsweek, along with some useful steps brands can take to preserve trust. You can read it here.
Brands Should Be Cautious about Commenting on Social or Political Issues
In the age of social media, communication travels instantaneously. Localized social and political issues now play out on the world stage, and brands must be cautious. Becoming embroiled in politicized conversations, simply for the sake of participating, may risk alienating a large portion of your customer demographic. That “bandwagon” effect can put your brand’s reputation at risk.
In 2023, customers will only become more savvy to identifying inauthentic brand campaigns and misguided PR stunts. If your brand has no prior history of supporting a particular cause or way of thinking, taking a sudden public stance might backfire — making your brand look opportunistic and honestly, just “icky.”
So, as you plan ahead for Q1, look to your strategic marketing partners before attaching your brand name to a social or political cause. Then, proceed with caution. My general advice is that it’s often best to avoid throwing your hat in the ring on hot-button issues.
This article, which I wrote for Newsweek, digs deeper into the factors at play here.
Company Leaders Must Prioritize Brand Authenticity
I hinted at this above, and I’ll reiterate it here: Consumers today are skilled at identifying hollow brand claims. To earn the genuine respect and trust of their target audiences, company leaders must prioritize authenticity. In short, you need to walk your talk.
Brand trust is a critical factor in purchase decisions and customer loyalty. Uniting your values with your actions is fundamental to the longevity of your business — and can make you more satisfied in your life and career overall.
This phenomenon is why I coined the term “trust relations,” to replace the traditional concept of PR. I believe that as a brand, you must do what you say before you can say what you do. Trust relations is about earning trust based on who you are — not on who you pretend to be — so that your storytelling and storydoing are one and the same.
If a company leader does not follow through on their promises and embody what they say they value, they won’t trust themselves — and others won’t trust them either. Building that deep trust and embodying that authenticity are key foundations for every business, and should always be a priority in every PR and marketing campaign.
This point is, arguably, the most essential trend to consider for the future of your brand. In fact, I presented a TEDx talk on this subject last spring. If you’re feeling a disconnect between what your brand does and what it claims to do, this video is a great starting point for repairing that rift.
Diversity Drives Innovation and Creativity
Here’s something that might surprise most corporate leaders: Research has shown that two common disruptors of team harmony actually have a positive impact on creative performance. Those factors are diversity and task uncertainty. Take Apple, for example. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were a total mismatch in style and personality, but their ability to combine their strengths was the key to Apple’s monumentous success.
When it comes to PR and marketing, it pays to bring together people who differ from each other in various ways — from social and cultural backgrounds, to geographic locations, to professional experiences, to ways of thinking. As diversity initiatives continue to be core components of modern corporate strategies, I encourage brands to expand that idea even further and consider actively embracing creative tension. If team members and partners are too similar in their thinking and ways of working, it breeds complacency and eventually, inaction. Creative friction is actually at the heart of what human beings need to create and innovate.
When this is done, truly remarkable results are produced. A wide and multi-faceted commitment to developing diversity in your organization can unlock that potential. I’ll be writing more about this in the coming year, and you can sign up for my newsletter at the bottom of this page, to stay in the loop.
As you create your PR and marketing campaigns for next year, consider these trends. Discuss with your brand partners and internal teams how to revamp your PR and marketing campaigns to be both prepared and agile in the pursuit of brand trust.
With 2023 just around the corner, now is the time to get started. If you’d like to discuss the best ways for your company to prepare for the year ahead. My team is here to help. Reach out to us.
Trust Relations Team