guide to PR

The ultimate guide to PR for 2022

Public relations. It’s a simple enough term, but it covers a wide remit, without a doubt. At it’s heart, PR is all about communication, to your employees, stakeholders, customers, whoever you need your messages with. Building trust and credibility in the eyes of your audience is an essential part of public relations.

But the public relations industry is constantly shifting and changing in line with consumer and business trends. The industry is so changeable, that a survey of 1,600 PR professionals from Muckrack states that 73% of PR professionals said they don’t think the term ‘public relations’ as it is defined today, will describe the work they are doing in five years.

What this means for public relations agencies, is the need to have a constantly on the pulse, while also being quick to adapt strategies and tactics in accordance with a shifting landscape.

In this guide to pr or 2023, we look ahead to what the coming 12 months may bring. We cast our attention back over the 2022, and explore significant shifts and moment which may still have major effects on public relations strategy and campaigns.

How social media is changing PR…. again!

Social media provided one of the biggest shake-ups to public relations, it has provided some of the most drastic changes to the remit of a PR agency.

In 2004 the world changed when Myspace racked up its first 5 million users. It changed again in 2008, when Facebook arrived, and immediately signalled the death of Myspace. A staggering feat considering in 2006, MySpace surpassed Google as the most visited website in the US.

Looking back, with perfect hindsight, we could glean an important lesson about the transience of social media. That channels may come and go, trends will change, but for the few that have held on.

The ‘few’ we’re referring to, are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and to a certain extent, Youtube.

But history has a way of repeating itself.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are now busy fighting their own battles. Instagram is trying to fend off the usurping Tik Tok and a resurgent Snapchat. Facebook fighting its own battles of brand loyalty and trust, while trying to produce a navigable route through its nascent metaverse.

As for Twitter, right now the only this we can is who knows?

Having just been bought out by Elon, who subsequently stripped out the board and paraded himself around Twitter HQ carrying a sink and promising a vision of an egalitarian digital town square and a short-lived proposition for a monthly fee for Blue Tick verification.

It’s still a little too early to tell what direction Twitter will head under its new leadership. But either way, the PR world is watching the Twittersphere, primed and ready for change.

Beyond the social media landscape, the PR world is looking ahead to a New Year and with it a host of new challenges, risks and opportunities.

Guide to PR in 2023

ESG comms at front and centre

When forming a wider public relations strategy, Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) are now mission critical to PR and business success.

The growth of ESG as a PR’able action has been steadily on the rise. But now businesses and PR agencies have reached a point whereby ESGs cannot be ignored. Your ethical business practices should now form an entirely standalone section of your PR strategy, rather than just bolted on.

Now, public relations campaigns must be able to demonstrate a business’s values across either or all of these ESG principles, to fully land with its target audience.

Across various media channels, journalists and editors are looking for more and more stories about ESG successes and how companies are approaching ESG in their day-to-day work.

From an end-user perspective, there is also a growing awareness of business culture and shared values. For a consumer, having a shared mindset is now a major determining factor in the conversion pipeline.

If you can’t use ESG to convince your customers that you share a common goal, then it’s more than likely you’ve already lost that business.

Media coverage: earned gets even more competitive

If you’ve worked with a public relations agency, you may well be familiar with the PESO model.

PRs will need to work their media relations and their media contacts, as the earned media landscape becomes even more competitive.

It’s becoming more competitive for a couple of reasons.

One is the shift in consumer habits. Newspapers are becoming physically smaller each year, due to diminishing ad sales revenue. For PRs, fewer pages mean less opportunity for coverage, as editorial becomes increasingly rarified.

This brings with it a shift, as news outlets look to increase their commercial streams in digital form. What this means is that media outlets, particularly larger and national titles, will become increasingly more pay-to-play.

For PR and businesses establishing paid media budgets and campaigns, paid has to be a factor.

Owned media becomes ever more critical

With the earned media landscape becoming more and more competitive, the onus will fall onto brands and businesses to make sure that their owned media is stand out.

This means a blog, newsletters and social media content all need to be folded into your digital pr strategy. Owned content to act as your means of constant engagement, funnel and pipeline building. Earned media for quality third-party endorsements which will, if timed correctly, help move that funnel along.

The key here is balance.

A balance between strong, consistent and relevant owned content, not pushy or over-selling and an earned media coverage strategy which enhances your owned media.

Media outlets: rise and rise of the new-wave

Again, another knock-on effect of the changing traditional media landscape is that we’re seeing valuable coverage coming in many different forms.

Newsletters are a growing trend, with many reputable national journalists opting to go solo and set up their own offerings through services such as Substack.

Then there is of course the podcast. There are 21.1 million listeners in the UK. The surge in the popularity of podcasts has been quite remarkable.

37% are listening to podcasts once a day or more, 70% are listening more than once a week. 58% are listening to three or more podcasts a week. It cannot be denied that Podcasts are now one of the dominant media forms.

Like with traditional media channels, there is competition here.

There are also expectations to be managed. Podcasts on the whole come with long lead times. So when you’re developing your PR strategies, and if they factor in podcasts, you need to be aware of the potential timescales between pitching and publication, these could be anything from two to 12 months.

Consider how these lead times might affect your message and your call to action.

Brand reputation and perception drive growth

Public relations efforts need to be divested into a brand reputation to drive growth.

With ESG high on the agenda and growing awareness within the wider public on aligning themselves with businesses and organisations they believe in, businesses and brands can little afford to ignore this.

Brand building, and more importantly brand maintenance will be a key role in PR.

Employer brand

It is not something often talked about in relation to a pr campaign, but employer brand will be a key factor to business success in the future.

To have success, a business needs the right talent and with many industries facing a skills shortage, employer brand will be what makes the difference.

PR can provide a lot when it comes to employer brands.

From a media outreach standpoint, public relations can hit target media outlets within key trade sectors and verticals with thought leadership and regular good news stories, painting a picture of your organisation as THE place to work within your sector.

This public perception will be what helps the right talent gravitate towards your organisation. Your ongoing employee relations is critical to retention, but the employer brand is critical to recruitment, which is critical to growth.

Media training, going beyond the media

Media training isn’t a new concept, but there are new ways in which media training can be implemented for use outside of the media.

Traditionally, media training would prep a CEO or business leader to be at their most confident and assured when the cameras are on them. But media training can, and should, be implemented beyond just the C-suite and D-suite.

Consider how media training could benefit the less senior members of your organisation. Media training can prepare them for business events, industry events and gatherings, even being more prepared and cohesive during virtual calls.

But how?

Fundamentally, media training is all about honing in on key messages and training the individual in question to be able to deliver those points under a myriad of circumstances.

By implementing widespread media training business leaders can tool up their entire organisation, ensuring everyone is on message.

Content is key

Once upon a time, in the world of public relations, issuing a press release, following it up and waiting for your print coverage to land was a prime function of traditional PR.

Now, with public relations professionals being tasked with ever-widening remits and the management of more channels of communication, the press release has given way to content creation as a dominant form of PR activity.

Content itself can span many means and methods. It can take the form of a white paper, a piece of video content, a research campaign and the subsequent breakdown of the results into myriad assets.

The ceiling for content is high indeed. Particularly within digital PR where the need for timely and engaging content is paramount.

While media coverage is still a major focus of the public relations landscape. PR can not afford to solely focus on media and press releases as a means of developing and executing effective public relations strategies.

Digital PR: Google rejects the cookie

Digital PR and marketing are facing a momentous shift, with the impending move away from third-party cookies.

While a cookie block may not be news to the users of Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla. The world is really waiting for Google’s anticipated ban on cookie tracking. Why this is important for digital is that Google plans to replace the tracking system with one of its own design.

Many are reporting this to be Google giving itself an unfair advantage, given that Chrome has a 65% global market share.

Google’s rejection of third-party ad-tracking will change the way we do business online. But it won’t be until the implementation and we know the outcomes of UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigations that we will truly know the scale of how.

Public relations tools

The way agencies evaluate and prove value has seen some of the most dramatic changes over the years. AVE was once the go-to barometer for proving the value of a press release. But public relations left that behind long ago.

Reach and domain authority are now much more powerful tools of evaluation. Even though print figures are diminishing though, the value and good feeling of a great piece of print coverage – particularly in the nationals – will never diminish.

But, with PR now being tasked with greater and wider remits, across more communications channels than ever before, the need to prove effectiveness and value is imperative.

When it comes to proving public relations value in the future, the AMEC Intergrated Evaluation Framework is fast becoming front and centre.

As a framework, it factors in aspects across the now standard PESO model. Factoring in objectives, inputs, outputs, activities, out-takes, outcomes and, perhaps most crucial of all, impact.

In summary

There really is no such thing as traditional pr anymore. The idea of issuing a press release and getting media coverage in return is now a far cry from what modern public relations is really about.

In 2023 and beyond, PR will be a major strategic value adder to any organisation. Yes, we can add value from a comms perspective, and drive attention towards your business in key areas, but PR focuses can, and do, go way beyond this.

The incision of PR within a business’s growth strategy and planning will add a much-needed outsider’s insight. PR can and will shine a light on aspects of your organisation, for better or worse, which perhaps you didn’t even know existed, or find a unique and exclusive story that may just propel you beyond your competition.

If you’ve found this guide to PR helpful, then you may find it even more useful to set up a call with one of the AMBITIOUS team, to discuss how your business can make the most of PR services [email protected].