The world continues to change at a fast pace and so is the practice of PR. The growing desire for more diversity, equity, and inclusion contributed in large parts to the ongoing great resignation, the global pandemic forced many more sectors to integrate hybrid work setups, and new-ish technologies such as AR and the hyped metaverse are starting to shape the next phase of communications.
Seventy-three % of PR professionals firmly believe that PR as an industry will undergo a fundamental transformation over the next 5 years. For this reason, the pressure is on PR practitioners to stay abreast of industry trends.
With that in mind, here are 10 PR trends to expect in 2022:
1. ‘Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)’ Matters
PR teams can expect DEI to become a pillar of their communications effort in 2022. The global pandemic and the great resignation accelerated this long-overdue adjustment.
Both consumers and employees, expect more DEI-driven action from their organizations. In addition, Millennials and Gen Z — now making up more than 60% of B2B buyers — want to get rid of norms marginalizing minorities and want to work with brands that promote and act with DEI standards in mind. As a consequence, to stay relevant and grow their businesses, organizations need to integrate DEI into their communications and back up such messaging with real action.
2. Target-Specific Content Will Drive Business Success
An increasing number of players are competing for mindshare online. This means that to stand out organizations need to create highly targeted campaigns tailored to their audiences.
To do this effectively, PR teams will upgrade how they obtain and interpret audience data and (consumer) insights. In addition, PRs will tap into the “creator” economy and expand their collaborations with creators to connect with their audiences and drive new business opportunities.
Interestingly, thanks to their business value to brands, the creator economy – made up of influencers, bloggers, and vloggers – constitute one of the fastest-growing economies, now worth an estimated $10 billion.
3. PR Pros Have a Seat at the Table
Brands and organizations have never been so intertwined with societal issues as they are today. PR specialists are gaining more responsibilities and are ever more often included in the overall corporate, strategic planning processes.
4. Disinformation Spreads Into the Corporate Sector
In 2022 brands will continue to invest in technology and resources to fight disinformation and PR professionals will be at the forefront of this action.
From the world of social smear campaigns and politics, disinformation is now spreading everywhere, from climate science to COVID-19 vaccines and now also in the corporate sector. Disinformation is becoming increasingly subtle and dangerous, due to the fast development of Disinformation-as-a-Service. To make matters worse, disinformation costs organizations $78 billion a year in stock market losses, loss of revenues, and significant drops in reputation.
5. Sustainability is a Branding Superpower
Sustainability in 2021 has become a priority for organizations around the world and we expect this trend to continue throughout 2022.
Studies show that 99% of business leaders incorporate ESG topics and their organization’s reputation into their decision-making.
6. AR and the Metaverse Might Shape the Next Phase of Communications
Bloomberg considers the metaverse an $800 billion market opportunity and, in 2022, both PR and marketing specialists will experiment with the metaverse to interact with their audiences in wholly different ways. Augmented Reality (AR) is the door to the metaverse which is an immersive digital space where people connect, play, and spend time.
In 2021 leading brands, such as Apple, Adidas and others, pioneered this new environment and others start to follow. Gamification, product placement, virtual events are only some of the unique opportunities the metaverse has to offer.
7. TikTok Is a Must in Every PR Strategy
The COVID-19 pandemic brought massive growth to social media. As a result, PR experts prioritized them in their communications strategies to increase visibility and engagement for their brands. In 2021 TikTok has experienced stellar growth with the number of monthly active users expected to grow to 1.5 billion by the end of 2022. That’s why PR specialists and marketers alike will be refocusing their campaigns away from Facebook and Instagram to TikTok in 2022.
8. Digital Nomads Are on the Rise
PR agencies and communications teams open to hiring digital nomads can prioritize talent in new ways and will benefit from a much larger pool of candidates.
With COVID-19 many organizations worldwide have embraced permanent remote work policies. This triggered a massive surge in digital nomads. In a nutshell, digital nomads are employees living anywhere in the world. In the U.S. alone, more than 10 million people consider themselves to be digital nomads. By 2035, this number is expected to grow to 1 billion people worldwide.
9. PR Will Capitalize on Social Audio
In 2022 PR specialists will integrate audio in their communications mix and will leverage related opportunities via owned and paid channels and also by partnering with influential voices in this space.
In 2021 the popularity of podcasts and social audio offerings such as Twitter Spaces or Clubhouse offered organizations more ways to reach their publics. In addition, COVID-19 had almost no impact on digital audio advertising in 2021 resulting in steady, uninterrupted growth.
10. Data and Measurement Are the Top PR Priority
In an increasingly complex and disrupted environment, PRs, marketers, and corporate communicators alike require data and insights at every step of their workflows: from research and planning to execution, performance measurement, and optimization.
To help quantify the value and business impact of PR in 2022 PR pros need a mix of established metrics such as mentions, media reach, sentiment, and share of voice (SOV), as well as newer data points such as Dark web mentions, Domain Authority, traffic and conversion data, backlinks, spam score, keywords rankings and more. Find the full list in our Essential PR metrics blog post
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