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20 PR and Marketing Predictions for 2022

Professionals across the globe share analysis and perhaps, aspiration, in offering up PR and marketing predictions for 2022

I believe when people write predictions, they aren’t just saying what they think will happen but revealing a reflection of sorts. To put it another way, predictions are equal parts analysis and aspiration.

As I’ve done for the last several years, I solicited and compiled a list of predictions from professionals across the PR and marketing community.

There is no order of merit to the predictions below, I’ve merely listed them in the order in which they were received. You’ll find my own prognostication at the very bottom.

1. Blogger outreach gets personal

“Guest posting gets personal. As anyone with even a slightly popular blog knows, ‘guest post pitching’ has gotten out of hand. Blogger email inboxes are stuffed every morning with spammy, mass outreach.

The tactic still matters, but PR pros and writers will need to step up their game to cut through the clutter. Engage with the blogger on social media first, personalize your outreach, read and follow any requirements, and provide high-quality content.

Video gets even bigger. But again, with the deluge of content being produced every day, being remarkable will be a baseline requirement.

The metaverse will not be huge for PR in 2022 – but watch this space.”

~ Tom Pick, Digital Marketing Consultant, Webbiquity, LLC

2. Year of the employee

“2022 is going to be known as the year of the employee. Companies who attempt to ride roughshod over their employees – whether it be forcing them back into the office after extended period away due the pandemic or those who choose to pay less – are going to have all sorts of issues which are going to be publicly known in very short order.

Conversely, those companies who show respect to their people – both in working conditions and pay – will continue to thrive and receive the positive accolades and media coverage which comes with supporting all those on their payroll.

~ Scott Kaminski, Senior Marketing Manager, Häfele America Co

3. Growth of independent journalism

“We are going to see more journalists build their own paid content channels – with or without backing from media outlets. This means PR pros will need to figure out how to have their clients mentioned in these outlets and learn how to measure their success.”

~ Brad Marley, Chief Storyteller, Yelram Media      

4. PR grows more in demand

“Public relations is HOT right now. Now more than ever, brands are understanding the importance of building trust and being transparent with their audiences, not to mention the value of clear communication. This year, we’ve seen brands and agencies alike trying – and struggling – to find and hire strong PR pros.

So, my prediction for 2022 is that those PR practitioners with stand-out skills like stellar writing ability and a proven track record of success will have unlimited career opportunities. These pros will continue to be in demand – and those in need of public relations assistance should be aware of all the options available to them, including consultants, agencies, and of course hiring in-house.”

~ Michelle Garrett, Public Relations Consultant/Writer, Garrett Public Relations         

5. Livestream goes mainstream

“Livestreams become mainstream. Social media livestreams will become acceptable as mainstream ‘news.’

As a former journalist, I struggle with this blurring of the lines between earned and paid media. However, media outlets and trade media platforms are reimagining ‘news’ to include livestreams, podcasts and webinars.

My B2B clients are more open to sponsored content. Emerging tech firms are especially interested in showing their executives and subject matter experts as approachable. The media partnerships allow access to niche audiences for next-gen innovations to be explained in a more simplified, conversational and compelling manner.

The sponsored livestreams use a soft sell approach, which is the reason they’re gaining in popularity. Plus, these programs support Gini Dietrich’s PESO Model (paid, earned, shared and owned media).”

~ Grace Platon, Communications Strategist, Communicate Grace, LLC         

6. Data-driven PR

“One of the big headlines for 2022 is that a data-driven approach to PR will be a must. Emerging channels like podcasts will continue to grow in influence, which means PR pros have to become more fluent in strategically pitching and forming relationships in these channels. And that requires good data – not only to find the right people and outlets but also to measure the reach and impact of these efforts.

Of course, this isn’t limited to new channels. To demonstrate the value of their work to stakeholders, PR pros will need to focus more on analytics and be able to report on the metrics that matter, including media placements, social media engagement, pitches opened or clicked and more.

Finally, with continued remote and hybrid work, PR teams need to invest in systems that will help them collaborate efficiently and build strong relationships. It’s never been more important to have a system of record that everyone on your team can access centrally, no matter where they’re located.”

~ Greg Galant, CEO, Muck Rack          

7. Consistency of effort

“As the news cycle continues to shrink, it will take more effort and consistency to make an impact via both PR/earned media and owned media.

Podcasts will still be an important PR target, but similar to national morning shows and regional broadcast, they’ll diminish in focus as PR targets due to the time and effort it takes to land placements and ability to re-merchandise those wins.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives will be incredibly important, but when the next crisis hits, consumers will be reminded to look back on major brands that only paid the topic lip service. Eventually, and thankfully, DEI will be expected and not a marketing point.

Brands and PR teams that know how to leverage affiliate networks will be a step ahead.

~ Bill Byrne, Managing Director, Remedy PR   

8. Data literacy is a prerequisite for PR

“CommsTech will be a dominant theme in 2022.  The pressure on communicators to tie their work to business impact will continue to increase. Chief communications officers (CCOs) who are not data literate will see their career opportunities diminish. And the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to give communicators predictive insights into what is coming next will create all-new possibilities for CCOs to (finally) be more proactive and less reactive.”

~ Eric Koefoot, President & CEO, PublicRelay, Inc. 

9. Backlash to the blockchain deluge

The metaverse, Web 3.0, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will suck the air out of the room in terms of PR, but there will be a backlash. Those who focus on what’s real and relevant rather than trying to turn everything into a Web 3 story will find a welcome reception from journalists dying for a break from the blockchain-backed deluge.”

~ David Berkowitz, Founder, Serial Marketers     

10. Reputation management is crucial

“Reputation management would become crucial in the face of recession, jobs loss and livelihood loss. Products and services would have to become affordable as they would have to target an increasingly larger middle-income group. Competition would be more intense as the marketplace would see a larger number of players, catering to these lower income groups.”

~ Maya Chakravarti V, Communications Specialist & Educationist

11. Recovery from pandemic imposed inhibitions            

“The second half of 2022 will see a boom in PR as companies are recovering from the inhibitions imposed by the pandemic and seek to communicate how they intend to proceed in the post-pandemic period.”

~ Noke Kiroyan, Executive Chairman & Chief Consultant, Kiroyan Partners                     

12. Pay-to-play

“I see a consolidation of media outlets, combined with more Pay to Play opportunities.”

~ Jason Brown, Principal, PublicCity PR

13. Social media breakup

“The U.S. government will finally get serious about the social media monopolies and start by breaking up Meta/Facebook, Google, etc. In addition, we’ll finally see legislation removing the blanket immunity of social media monopolies for content under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.”

~ Louis Gordon, Director of Content & PR, Perimeter 81     

14. Prioritizing self-care

“PR professionals will need to continue to prioritize self-care. The COVID-19 pandemic blurred lines between work and personal lives, and that blurring will continue into 2022. There will need to be a renewed push to help professionals working in an already stressful profession manage work-life balance.”

~ Ami Neiberger, CEO, Steppingstone LLC

15. Issues from 2021 to carry-over

“Several trends that started in 2021 will grow to carry over into 2022.

The first is the tight market for talent. Qualified employees are scarce, and companies recognize that they need to be seen as great places to work and thrive as well as strong brands. But it’s employee retention and engagement that will take priority.

Retention will be as important as recruitment, and smart companies will double down on employee comms. Another trend that grew in ’21 is authentic, purpose-driven marketing. I recently saw new research showing that brand purpose is even more important to B2B buyers than to B2C customers, which is surprising but probably makes sense given the longer selling cycle and relationship to corporate reputation.

Finally, the demise of third-party cookies means brands are reviewing their data strategies and will make major changes. It’s good news for contextual advertising companies, who have already started reaping the benefits of marketing’s ‘identity crisis.’ It will boost tactics like contextual advertising, email marketing, and social commerce and could even usher in a new era of creative marketing and PR strategies.

~ Dorothy Crenshaw, CEO, Crenshaw Communications  

16. Slow decline of social media

The anti-social, social media. I think this is the beginning of slow decline in social media use across all ages. I am not saying this is the death of social media – because I think it is here to stay in many ways – but the impact on our lives will shift. I think we will see increasing push back on social media companies (already underway) and consumers of all ages – but especially younger consumers will start to reject the influence and negativity that can come with a steady diet of social media content. For marketers and communicators this means we need to pull some old standbys our of back pocket and remember the days when word of mouth actually occurred by bringing consumers together either in person or virtually. We need to bring back the conversation, the private event and up our creativity to navigate the changing media landscape.

~ Wendy Zajack, Faculty Director, IMC & DMC, Georgetown University             

17. Customer success wrestles renewals from sales

“Customer success departments wrestle control of customer renewal and expansion from sales.  For SaaS companies, Net Revenue Retention has become THE metric that the C-suite and board want to track.

Customer success teams are the best equipped to manage, track, and optimize the relationship with customers. The wealth of data we now have on customers (from product, finance, marketing, operation) enables forward-thinking customer success teams to have meaningful and timely conversations.

The trend is moving in this direction. The 2021 Customer Success Leadership Study found that 55% of SaaS companies put renewal ownership under the customer success teams.  This was up from 50% in 2020.”

~ Hunter Montgomery, CMO, ChurnZero       

18. Purpose and supply chain messaging

“Brands will continue to have their hands full with the unique challenges of the current (post?) pandemic economy with – to name just two examples – “purpose” (an often misused, but therefore not meaningless concept) remaining important to acquire and keep talent and marketing having to help navigate brands through a situation in which products are either not available, arrive late or/and become more expensive.”

~ Jo Detavernier, Principal, Detavernier Strategic Communication                

19. PR as arbiters of ESG

“What strikes me most for 2022 is the challenge of PR as an arbiter of ESG. We are guardians of reputation and image and so we must ensure that the ‘ESG wave’ of promises are fulfilled.

Many companies are challenged to adapt operations to ESG. There are financial costs that often cannot be sustained. Finally, there are logistical challenges that can make some initiatives unfeasible, among many other practical issues that reveal themselves. Finally, we must deal with promises made that have not yet fully fulfilled.

In the ‘Era’ of transparency, social media and with a society much more sensitive than before the pandemic, it is essential that senior management be realistic in plans, advertisements, and transparent in the step-by-step it will follow to achieve each desired goal.”

~ Luciana Lima, PR and Press Coordinador, Palavra Comunicação | Reserva Paulista    

20. Fast-vertising.

“The lines between marketing, advertising, and PR will continue to blur, with many companies wanting to consolidate the three efforts. I think brand partnerships and fast-vertising (as seen in Ryan Reynold’s Peloton-Sex in the City mashup) will dominate our industry in terms of impact compared to more standard press announcements such as funding or product announcements. Companies who want to break out in 2022 shouldn’t skimp on their paid and earned media budgets and they should be open to thinking creatively and acting quickly.”

~ Jon Amar, Principal Consultant, onword

21. Audience building becomes a crucial skill

“Audience building is becoming paramount. Why? Several PR and marketing trends are merging and creating an enormous challenge to building awareness:

  • fewer bona fide journalists are deluged with ever-more pitches by digital marketers and SEOs moonlighting as PRs;
  • of the publications that remain, many have narrowed their focus and put up paywalls;
  • trust in media and government is at an all-time low, while trust in business is at an all-time high (see research)
  • organic social media has diminishing value as the social platforms depress brand messages and links to third-party websites; and
  • third party tracking (e.g. cookies) is in its twilight which puts reduces marketing reach and targeting.

To overcome these challenges, brands must attract and build their own audience – preferably of emails subscribers. The content they produce must be neutral, helpful and authoritative in nature – like that which PR has mastered for contributed articles for ages.

The PR pros that have diligently fostered audience building skills over the last few years, through old-fashioned blogging, creating content marketing programs (not marketing content – the difference is drastic) and learning the technical side of content platforms, analytics and SEO, will be best positioned to add value to help business achieve these goals.

~ Frank Strong, Founder and President, Sword and the Script Media, LLC

An abbreviated version of this prediction was published by the Content Marketing Institute (see below).

* * *

Many thanks to the professionals who sent in a prediction. Happy New Year!

2022 predictions posts around the web:

Prior year prediction posts on Sword and the Script:

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Image credit: Pixabay

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