Daney Parker, Editor, PRmoment.com
The end of 2022 has not been a happy one, strikes, a cost-of-living crisis… and the weather hasn’t been too hot either (or is that good news?). Hoping for a better 2023, we asked PR pundits to look in their crystal balls - judging from their predictions, it looks like there will be plenty of work for PRs to do, so that’s one positive at least!
1. Brands will be more sensitive to audience circumstances
Cheryl Chia, senior account manager at PR agency Full Fat “ With the cost-of-living and recession woes hitting hard this winter, it is more important than ever for PR campaigns to have an important emotional connection with their audiences. Frivolous spending or gifting has taken a back seat as consumers are having to become more prudent with their purse strings. Also, people are less likely to buy from a company that has disappointed them with actions or words on a social issue. They want that emotional connection with a brand before making a purchase and many want the brands they buy from to be committed and accountable to a social cause.”
2. PR will become more diverse, and kinder
Anastasia Ivanova, client partner at advertising services agency Ogilvy UK: “In 2023, PR will become more diverse, and also… kinder. Operating at the intersection of strategy and art, the industry exposes its people and their work to being branded ‘genius’ or ‘jarring’… all at the same time. Depending on the experience, motivation and background of those passing judgement.
“As PR becomes more diverse and inclusive, our collective ability to accept, celebrate, and truly see people around us for who they are and notice their ‘superpowers’ - is what will create true equity. Next year, more PR teams will make tolerance and kindness the centrepiece of their approach to managing and rewarding talent. Not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it builds resilient teams and creates competitive advantage.”
3. Companies will act to help the environment
Olivia Prole, communications consultant at PR agency Definition: “In recent years, businesses and consumers have become much more aware and conscious of the impact that we are having on the environment. As a result, we are seeing more brands using ‘environmentally friendly’ as an advertising tool, but how much are they really doing to be friendly to the environment and ensure that they are doing their bit? In 2023, I expect that firms will be held more accountable for their actions - not just from a regulatory point of view - but from a PR perspective also. Businesses need to be carrying out more tangible actions and doing what they can to offset their environmental emissions. It’s time to proactively think ‘do I need to get on a plane to fly to another country for a one-hour meeting or could it be a teams call?’ I think we all know the answer.“
4. CEOs will become more engaged in PR
Greg Galant, cofounder and CEO of media software firm Muck Rack: “In 2023, we’ll see more CEOs become interested in PR strategies and measurement as ad budgets tighten amidst economic uncertainty and brand reputation and credibility continue to be top of mind for organisations.
“CEOs are realising more that the time to think about PR isn’t after you build a marketing plan or after a crisis occurs; they’re bringing their PR team into the conversations from the start to build creative ideas, mitigate risk and prepare for any challenges in advance.”
5. ‘Mixternal comms’ will be critical
Frank Wolf, CSO and co-founder of comms platform Staffbase: “The last few years have shown that effective internal and external communications is a business necessity. In 2023, ‘mixternal comms’, a strategic partnership between internal communicators (ICs) and PR teams, will be critical for the growth, survival and success of companies.
“There is now more expectation on organisations to respond to today’s uncertain landscape in an informed and sensitive way. To tackle this, many ICs find themselves applying a ‘journalistic approach’, searching for the truth, to bring employees the facts regarding global events. But more importantly, ICs are also responsible for ensuring that their audiences (employees with differences in opinion) are on the same page to guarantee business growth. These new challenges explain why our research found that communicating with employees around external topics was a top issue for ICs in 2022.
“Amidst a global recession, this mixternal comms trend will only continue through next year. It will be crucial that both teams align on the company narrative, from the messaging itself to how it is communicated. They will also need to work closely with key influencers, from C-suite executives to clients, helping them tell impactful stories tailored to internal and external audiences."
6. Brands will focus on employer branding
Debbie Zaman, CEO and founder of PR agency With: "As the world continues to grapple with a rapidly destabilising economy, we’ve already seen thousands of lay-offs from tech giants. In 2023, companies will need to focus on an engaging employer brand narrative in order to retain skilled and valued employees. This is a key trend that has also been highlighted by members of the With Global Alliance from the US to India with ethical positioning and narratives replacing products and services.
“Employees want to work for companies that are mindful of their role in the world, adapting their practices to be more inclusive and developing - as well as sticking to - their climate pledges. Instead of saying, we’ll see more companies doing, by building a transparent employer brand that is forthcoming about their policies and employment practices. Whilst striving to become more sensitive to the needs of employees, a multi-faceted approach through internal and external communications will become integral to sustaining trust, driving good business and demonstrating moral responsibility."
7. You will have to work harder for cut-through
Jonny Fordham, media relations director, at agency CSM Sport & Entertainment : “With so many platforms and different types of media competing for attention, comms people will have to work harder than ever to deliver PR cut-through.
“In sport, in-house content across leagues and clubs will grow - so comms people with the best contacts and influence in the media will be more valuable than ever to help deliver results in a crowded and creatively evolving area.
“Brands also need to be aware that in-house content that sits on their own channels is always best supported with a strategic PR plan. Great PR will always be a cost-effective way of reaching new audiences. And journalists are always happy to work in collaboration, so long as your story and messaging is genuine, newsworthy and unique.”
8. Content must be pitch perfect
Sue Terpilowski, managing director and founder of agency Image Line Communications: “Agility to respond will be key to staying ahead in 2023.
“More expert content-driven PR will become increasingly the way to maximise clients' budgets and ROI. Alongside personalised PR, comms professionals will be tailoring pitches to individual journalists or influencers with messages that speak directly to their interests and needs.
“PRs will be steering away from a one-size-fits-none press release approach and instead present an eye-catching idea that's hard to miss. You then have a better chance of being published by the targeted outlets or resources.
“Expert and thought leadership placements will also become increasingly more critical in 2023, especially on subjects concerning ESG, diversity and inclusion, as these become as important as the products and services themselves.”
9. There will be more investment in tech
Max Deeley, managing director, at agency TDC PR: "It’s easy to panic in the face of global uncertainty, but a new year is a timely reminder to take stock and re-evaluate how we deliver value to our clients. Now more than ever, we’re seeing how technology can augment our current capabilities and bring clarity to the role of PR in successfully building brands. And as competition for the best talent grows, we also know that automation of basic functions is essential for any agency to insulate itself against a turbulent jobs market. Not only that, but it frees up said talent to focus on what only humans can deliver: creative solutions to 21st-century communications challenges. None of this is new, but with a recession looming large and society seemingly in a state of perpetual unrest, the risk for many agencies is that they get left behind by newer, more agile market entrants who want to upset the status quo."
10. Look forward to even more digital
Richard Knowles, head of PR at PR agency Low and Behold: “Digital, digital, digital. Ok, that’s nothing new, but be prepared to see more and more activity shaped around digital output.
“For PR that means links and short videos (reels anyone?), with podcasts coming off the bench to provide extra firepower if needed – sorry for the tenuous World Cup reference!”
11. Celebs (and brands) will have to watch what they do
Richard Knowles: “One other thing that is seemingly likely to increase, is the calling out of celebrities or big companies for PR campaigns or activity that ‘cover up’ or ignore the actions of said person or business, that go against commonly held moral and/or ethical views.
“See British Cycling’s link to Shell and BrewDog’s ‘World Cup Beer charity’ campaign. This should lead to more and more PR activity being given more scrutiny in-house, before being unleashed - well let’s hope so!”
12. PR will save the day!
Lorraine Emmett, managing director of B2B tech PR agency EC-PR: “In 2023, I predict that there will be an AI-triggered civil unrest due to algorithmic bias which will lead to an escalation of discrimination against minority groups. This will fuel frustration and fear as people deal with a recession, the impact of global warming and military aggression. The role of PR professionals will be critical to restoring public order and calm, and faith in civil society.”
Well on that dramatic note, we bid you all a Merry Christmas and hope that all our positive predictions come true so that 2023 is a very happy year for everyone who works in PR.
To see how accurate PRmoment’s predictions are you can see last year’s predictions for 2022 here
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