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Five digital trends that will impact PR

In January, founder Ashley Friedlein and the research team at digital agency Econsultancy, identified over 50 trends that will impact digital marketing, customer experience and ecommerce in the coming year.

Here they’ve curated the five trends for their effect on communications, exclusively for PRmoment.

1. The shift to first party data
The retirement of the third-party cookie looms over the digital ecosystem and is a key factor in the movement we observe across sectors to build direct customer and audience relationships. The boom in email newsletters is the most obvious play for connection, but new loyalty and community schemes are exploding to try and fill CRM databases. Comms is on the hook to break though the clutter of brands asking consumers to not simply pay attention to them but share their data.

2. Sustainability as challenge and opportunity
Consumer awareness of brands’ sustainability issues and stances leapt in 2020/2021. But while brands like Unilever, Philips and Chanel are using sustainability initiatives as a key messaging component, most companies are lagging their customers’ concerns. Before comms can answer them, they will have to help many organisations understand the question.

3. Smaller communities, greater engagement
A key macro trend is toward micro-audiences. Growth in interest-based communities and niche marketplaces has significantly outpaced even ecommerce across the pandemic. As brands focus in on these groups, comms must speak to their unique attributes, which are relatively easy to identify, but inherently demand specific messaging and content.

4. Direct to consumer
The pandemic drive to digital opened opportunities for manufacturers, pushing direct to consumer (DTC) from business media darling to vital revenue line. Sectors that had resisted direct sales embraced them, from luxury to cosmetics and even B2B. But as these new players flood paid marketing channels, it’s on PRs to make a case that’s both authentic and effective.

5. Hybrid work and the war for talent
Comms agencies and professionals are in the middle of the war for digitally savvy workers; they’re increasingly tasked with helping businesses attract attention among prospective employees while suffering from a talent shortage themselves. The new acceptance of remote work has upended the geographic inertia of the traditional employment model, so people are free to seek employers with a culture or purpose they connect with. Defining those qualities and speaking to them with messaging that lands is a burgeoning challenge.

Written by Stefan Tornquist, SVP, research and learning at Econsultancy

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