The world of public relations is more dynamic than ever. With the unprecedented and unexpected events of 2021, leading from COVID-19, we’ve seen some disruptive changes in the world of PR. With more and more campaigns diverting into the digital PR realm, in the upcoming year, we will still encounter new trends and industry patterns building up..
This foreshadows new PR trends in 2022 that are worth following. The public relation industry trends are important to keep up with both for PR specialists and up-and-coming businesses. In this article, we’ll go through the importance of keeping up with PR trends in 2022, what these trends are, and how the industry progresses, transforms, and impacts the business world.
PR trends, like any other industry, are influenced by a number of things: employee expectations, technology, consumer preferences, and more. And as those impactful characteristics change, your PR strategies and process must adapt along-side the change as well. For example, in the past there were sole PR departments, which in the present are divided into marketing and PR, both of which hold shared responsibility for negative responses by the target audience of a campaign. Once operating in separate silos, PR and marketing departments must now work in cohesion to make sure the holistic marketing communications goals are met.
Moreover, digital PR is continuously growing as an effective PR tool. People can be found responding to PR campaigns the most in the online space. This creates great opportunity for a two-way method of communication with the audience, one that was not established easily (or at all) in the past.
But what is the meaning of digital PR? Not to be confused with SEO, which often happens, digital PR is the act of using marketing and traditional PR strategies to promote a business online.
PR and SEO are two completely different concepts, which earns you different benefits when executed. Truth be told, they do compliment each other quite nicely. To put this otherwise, focus on the end goals of both practices.
Digital PR essentially will have a brand exposed in front of the eyes of millions. At the same time, when executed correctly, your brand will build trust and awareness, your audience will grow to relate with and respond to your brand and its image.
SEO, on the other hand, deals purely with rankings and statistics. It cares about putting your website in front of your audience’s eyes, making search engines (like Google or Bing) deem your website authoritative and worthy of appearing in the upper ranks of search results. Pure numbers. Digital PR also ensures that your audience is exposed to your brand as much as possible, but it also provides the details around presenting them with quality content.
And a combination of both will score you high rankings, large exposure, quality content, attracted audience, name recognition, brand certification, and much more. Now, let’s dive into the trends that define PR today.
The first emerging trend is a shift from people capturing singled out events, to now creating human-centric movements. This transformation focuses on human experiences (be it in the digital world or real world), which helps to keep a cultural connection to the world around us. Globalization does not stop forming despite the pandemic, and this trend secures the acceptance of different cultures, cohabitation, and engagement with audiences in new ways and in real-time.
This gives PR the great opportunity to have a real impact on the target audience.
More ideas are born, which are data-driven and backed by the use of technology, which increases the reach of these ideas. What is more, the two-way communication that some platforms offer are perfect for responses and striking fruitful back-and-forth communication that will certainly lead to an improvement in the process of PR campaigns. Human-centric movements are a strong and steady trend that’s being practiced more and more, and is an even greater opportunity for PR strategies to prosper, and PR specialists to follow.
In the era of information, it is no longer a battle of who will get access to the most information, but rather who will get access to the right sources. Authenticity is a key metric for the success of a brand, and in that sense, a key trend that is nurturing the industry. PR specialists need to make sure that brands have an authentic voice, whether they truly believe in what they stand for, keep in mind that everything promoted about a brand needs to be checked.
This urge for fact-checking is a tool to separate the legitimate brands and websites from the ones that have hidden incentives. If a slip-up is made, the audience will notice, and their response can severely damage any attempt at expanding a brand’s presence online.
Authenticity is a byproduct of two key areas: growing use of AI and the pandemic leading to a shift in content marketing.
Technology aids us in learning more about our target audience than ever before, but there is a dissociation. PR experts are still needed to secure that a human connection is made, one that AI cannot replicate. That way brands will personalize their messages and content in general, and do so in a way that is much more authentic.
The pandemic led to a shift in many directions we did not expect. The change in branding, messaging, and content overall has made the audience in the form of consumers burnt. They are now more critical and suspicious of information, because of the abundance of fake news and misinformation that exists in the online space.
This is why authenticity has been called for, and brands need to make sure they go the extra mile for that. Otherwise, consumers will be unforgiving in the event of non-authentic content.
A crucial point is to be able to understand different media outlets and journalists. When you write up a piece of content for a specific client, it is then your job as a PR expert to put this content out into the open. But it is important to know exactly where you need to release what you have created.
In that sense, understanding the media dictates the success of your story. This is so because different journalists and media platforms have different topics of focus, and as such not every outlet will be suitable for the content you need to spread.
Pay attention to the target audience you will reach with every different media outlet. So when you write your pitch, make sure that you write to the journalists that are relevant to the subject, industry, client, etc. A health-tech journalist is different from a fintech journalist. If you’re writing content for a campaign that helps a fintech startup company, then the latter journalist is preferable for reaching out. Otherwise, you’d just be wasting time on non-suitable journalists.
This trend of being aware of the various media channels is now more important than ever. As mentioned before, authenticity is a driving factor for audiences. They have become sensitive to any piece of information, content, or other story that feels insincere, and are prone to being frustrated from the deception that occurs when falling into the trap of “fake news”.
A way to ensure authenticity is to pay attention to as many channels as possible. This will help in singling out the ones that are more trustworthy and credible, and will additionally secure PR experts in the credibility of their own pieces of content.
The more media channels you keep an eye on, the more you can identify credibility in those platforms, and the more credibility you will have in your own work. What is more, you will be able to secure more media opportunities. From the right journalists, for the right content.
So it is important to pay attention to media channels, because they are the opportunities you will have to spread the right content at the right places with the needed credibility and authenticity, which will secure the engagement of your audience.
We are already observing how the industry is shifting to a more data-driven approach. But this in practice still needs to be ironed out. It is a fairly new custom to use a data-driven approach, and especially so with the advancement of software in the direction of data analytics.
Companies in 2022 have heavily turned their attention to the notion of big data. Clients and brands invest in tools for the acquisition of data, but it is not enough. There is a need for more detail in the process of working with data. An environment needs to be established where data is not only collected, but is adequately customized, tracked, analyzed, and applied.
Applying that, the PR industry will provide for its clients deeper insights on the behavior of their target audience, and this in turn will eliminate biases and improve the personalization of targeted messaging.
A more meaningful and targeted message for the target audience can go a long way and have a lasting impact on the target audience in relation to the brand in question. So keep an eye on data analytics and the tools that make a data-driven approach possible.
These recent trends in PR have increased the expectations for PR teams. Public relations experts are finding themselves in the spotlight and they need to deliver. To do so, a necessary level of networking is important. Building relationships with media outlets will lead to having a strong enough connection with journalists to be able to rely on them putting your work into the open for people to see.
Get creative with your media relationships, and use a data-driven approach to present a new and unique perspective on a topic of interest in whatever industry you are dealing with. This will make you stand out in the media community. While we talked about fake news and authenticity from the perspective of journalists, it is now the case that you need to be authentic for the establishment of strong relationships with media outlets.
Being able to work your way around a collection of data will shoot you to the top of media networking and cement your name as a trustworthy source of content. Pay attention to this trend surrounding the joint works of the PR industry and the media world.
PR and marketing departments will now go hand in hand. This leads to the necessity for better coordination across different departments. Syncing your campaigns and having the needed timing will secure a higher impact on the target audience, and do so in a cost-efficient manner (increase return on investment (ROI)).
PR alone is one organism living in a larger ecosystem. This is why it needs to be coordinated. You will amplify a PR campaign by including stronger content strategies, social media strategies, and other extras that help the targeted message reach the target audience.
A successful PR campaign in today’s world is defined differently from the past. Nowadays, PR has touching points with many other organisms in the ecosystem - marketing (paid ads), content strategies (articles, stories), social media exposure (twitter, facebook), and securing all these different fronts with proper timing, communication and coordination is what deems a PR strategy successful. The collaboration between all these different players is an emerging trend in public relations worth watching.
The average representative of the new generation will use their smartphone (with about 98% of them having one) for at least 5 hours a day.
The average representative of the new generation cannot go more than 30 minutes without checking their phone.
PR experts will need to turn their attention to Gen Z - the next generation of consumers. They break the record for being exposed to the internet, where digital PR and digital marketing dominate.
Focusing on Gen Z is an emerging trend in 2022 that cannot be overlooked. So kick-off the year by analyzing this generation with all their trends, interests, causes, passions, methods and channels of communication, etc.
It is important to be authentic, though. This generation has the unique ability to catch unauthentic content online. Which is all the more reason to appeal to them. Either way, Gen Z in itself is a highly emerging trend in public relations that all PR experts need to turn their eyes to in 2022.
We are all aware of the effects this pandemic had on our daily lives. And one of the biggest ones was working from home. Combining the office and your living room into one space has had some serious impact both on media outlets and PR experts.
The trends here relate to the work ethic that has been changed. People now blend those two spaces (office and living room) and as a result lose the clear thresholds for their day and even work longer hours.
But the important thing to pay attention to here is that many people have changed their schedule to suit their blurry lifestyle. They have gone out of the norm and out of the established work ethic, while working from home. For example, journalists who work on the basis of created content, rather than fixed hours, are changing the hours for securing content on their platforms.
If you want to pitch your content to journalists, you might want to check their schedule, and check it twice. This trend in 2022 will continue to be important, as we still don’t see the end of it.
Or at least it should. The past two years have taken from our human experience, and instead provided us with technology. The benefits of that is that PR experts could work remotely and at the same time achieve global reach and inclusivity via the internet.
But it is human contact that gives us stories, experiences, inspires us to be creative and supports our passions.
So both worlds have benefits to offer, which is why they need to coexist and cooperate, and not replace each other. Technology can be a tool, and should be used as one to successfully get people together and achieve the second part of the cooperation - the human contact, events, socializing, etc.
The PR industry needs to focus on that, and expand the trend in 2022 that technology and real-life experiences need to coexist and compliment each other. The PR industry will then observe higher success, higher impact, and an increased motivation from the audience to engage with brands in the two-way communication channels.
The spread of false information can be dangerous for brands and companies in the context of their PR strategies. PR experts need to pay attention to the raging quantity of false information online and avert any potential crisis it may have.
To do so, the PR industry must invest in data analytics and media monitoring tools. This will not only ensure a data-driven approach (that importance of which was already made apparent) but also prevent potential damage to their clients.
Data analytics and monitoring tools give the PR world an opportunity to use social listening and manage their content in a way that is more authentic and trustworthy. Public relations executives can then target harmful content and tackle the issue before it reaches the mass audience.
This trend is growing and industries need to secure beneficial content and extinguish harmful stories to prevent reputational damage to their clients, but also install a way to observe the social behavior.
The pandemic’s impact of having us stay at home much more than usual has affected us in such a way that changed our activities. We now spend more time on our phones or technological devices. This urges us to acknowledge the growing and continuous importance of multimedia content.
Keeping in mind that we ought to use technology to nurture the human experience, it is through multimedia content that it can be achieved. PR strategies now increase in dynamics, as you can implement your client’s brand, product or service into different audio and video formats, and customize them in a way that reaches the target audience via their preferred interests.
For example, you can work with different podcasts, YouTube vloggers, or other media outlets to squeeze in your client’s brand into the relevant form of entertainment that the specific viewer and potential customer is enjoying.
PR experts need to keep an eye on this trend, and look out for new and different platforms that their target audience enjoys.
With the growing global reach of PR campaigns, the growing necessity for diversity and inclusion needs to be applied not only in theory but also in practice. Attracting people from different ethnicities, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds will change the way we look at the PR world. A diverse community will have a diverse effect with many new and different perspectives on how to process strategies for branding and leadership.
This is especially important, and it needs to be stressed that it is not enough to make the statement. Audiences will require authenticity and credibility for the values a company expresses.
Make sure, as PR experts, that these are not mere statements but companies are actually practicing what they preach. Back up any statements with real results and avoid using inclusion policies only to gain a PR advantage. Audiences have become sensitive to empty words (as authenticity dictates) and these attempts for rushed PR success will backfire.
Follow this growing trend in 2022, as a diverse community will present a new perspective on strategies and campaigns, and those will resonate with the global target audience.
E-commerce keeps growing and growing as everyone is on the internet now, and commerce on the internet is more accessible than ever. So is the case for PR campaigns and it is a growing issue that the more content is passed, the more competitive the environment.
PR experts need to focus on their outreach to ensure that the content not only satisfies and engages the target audience, but also reaches it in the first place. Increasing your content outreach is easy if you pay attention to SEO optimization tactics. Using proper keywords, tuning your content for the search engine software to acknowledge it, spreading the content in the right place are all methods to increase your search engine rankings.
But it is also vital to personalize your content. Treating people uniquely can have a great impact on their response. What is more, personalized content is perfect for the many different platforms you can spread that content in order to reach the target audience. Having more personalized content based on data analytics and the conclusion drawn from data sets is a great way to place your client’s brand into the right spots.
Consumers sprint across many different platforms in search of engaging and relevant content that fits their interests. A well-crafted personalized PR pitch not only has the ability to engage people more strongly, but also has a higher chance of being liked by journalists and other media outlets and platforms.
Follow this trend in 2022 to establish more trust in your client’s brand and show depth and credibility in your campaigns.
Despite the demand for online content increasing, full-time employment in the media industry has been decreasing. This means that media outlets have a shortage of supply when it comes to content, which is just the opportunity PR experts need.
Having freelancers create content for different PR strategies is a growing way to secure a PR campaign’s reach. Since the few full-time journalists will be busy with larger news articles, the areas where inline content serves the purpose of spreading a brand’s image lacks providers.
Focus on thought leadership to create articles that can be widely distributed by media outlets, which need the external sources of content. This trend will keep growing and shift the way these industries (PR and media) cooperate.
Luckily, contributed articles that touch on the topics of thought leadership and other PR strategies are well-received by consumers, which means the target audience of many such media outlets with a high demand for external content will engage with the content you pitch.
The entire idea of digital PR is a practice that increases visibility and exposure. Digital PR is a must-have in your work as a PR expert, and it will boost your success by unimaginable numbers.
Digital PR is a promotional tactic that applies traditional PR principles to the digital world. It largely touches on SEO optimization but it’s not the same. While also extremely important, SEO is another sphere that compliments digital PR.
The way to measure your efforts in your online presence is by paying attention to SEO tactics as well. Link building, keywords, search engine rankings are all ways to monitor the success of your digital PR campaign.
In this sense, you need to pay attention to the details of the trend. It is now much easier to keep an eye on the real-time data that informs you about your campaign’s performance. With the help of the many tools and software available, gathering insight is a piece of cake as opposed to before.
Keeping track of the success of your campaigns will make future campaigns more effective. This also begins the transition to a data-driven approach in the PR industry, which will aid your strategy in many ways. Data analytics will bring your attention to how to evaluate stakes (audience interest, behavior, engagement, etc.).
Digital PR in itself offers a different type of performance (across the online profile of a company), messaging (quality content to appeal to different platforms), engagement (two-way communication for audience to respond to campaigns), and more.
With these details in mind, and a data-driven approach that builds trust and credibility, executing this growing trend will secure improved SEO scores, generated leads, brand trust, website traffic, wider reach, and more.
Don’t forget to watch how this trend develops, and measure your performance and success with the easily-accessible tools and software for an even greater success.
Many changes have occurred in the past couple years. For example, people have been increasing their participation in movements, defining what’s right and wrong, and standing up for it. These realizations have stemmed from the abundance of information that they’re being fed. But more importantly, these movements focus on the human as a starting point.
They identify a social issue, and define clearly what needs to be protected, and what is better left in the past. That translates into the PR industry.
Businesses and brands have begun working towards helping humanity protect those values, exterminate the roots of the issues, and move forward. The tech industry develops and converts people to a greener lifestyle where a single piece of technology can save tons of environmentally-unfriendly products.
This is already a huge step up in the world of PR, not because more and more startups and scaleups show support for positive movements, but because they actively work towards making a difference.
The emerging trends in PR and in media relations are examples of the shifting world we’re experiencing. And it’s crucial for the sake of having a real-life impact to closely follow the latest trends.
The use of digital media is shaping the world and emerging trends in public relations are evidence that more can be done, but it needs to be done right.