Because public relations is continuously evolving, it’s more important than ever to stay up-to-date on the latest industry topics, technologies, and trends. Although media relations and traditional PR content creation continue to play a crucial role in our field, modern PR professionals will be expected to handle a much wider range of responsibilities than in previous years. In fact, a recent Muckrack survey found that 73% of PR pros don’t think the term “public relations” as it’s defined today will describe the work they’re doing in five years.
In preparation for the inevitable changes in the PR industry over the next few years, we’ve outlined four trends to monitor as we move into 2022.
1. It’s all about the numbers
As public relations and marketing departments become increasingly intertwined, PR professionals will start heavily relying on data and analytics for their communications efforts. Public relations has always been about storytelling, and in order to create compelling stories and narratives, your PR campaigns will have to be driven by data.
By gathering data on important KPIs like SEO improvement, social media advertising, or earned media, you can justify your previous decisions and inform your future PR efforts. This subsequently leads to security in terms of budgeting for PR, as companies can see tangible evidence that your outreach led to traffic, conversions, leads, and ultimately sales.
2. Personalized Pitching
A recent study found that 96% of PR professionals say individual emails are the most effective channel for pitching journalists. This statistic suggests the days of incessantly sending out pitches and mass emailing are long gone, and the future of pitching is all about personalization for the journalist you’re contacting.
Reporters receive tons of pitches a day, so you have to discover ways to cut through the noise. Regardless of how relevant or timely a pitch is, you’ll improve your hit rate by cultivating relationships with journalists and learning their areas of expertise.
3. The impact of Influencers
Social media usage has grown exponentially in recent years, and it shows no sign of slowing down. With over half of the world’s population on social media platforms, PR professionals have had to adapt rapidly to reach people in this new landscape, and one of the more popular trends is influencer marketing. For instance, current industry forecasts predict US influencer marketing spending will rise by 33.6% in 2021 to $3.69 billion!
Influencers, as the name would suggest, are anyone with a large following on social media, but it’s not just massive influencers with millions of followers like the Kardashians. Recently, brands have begun utilizing micro and nano-influencers, which are influencers with smaller followings in niche markets. This level of influencer actually experiences higher levels of engagement than many of the mega-celebrity influencers, which reinforces the idea that quality is more important than quantity in regards to ROI on social media.
4. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will be a major focus
As many as 70% of consumers want brands to take a stand on social and political issues, which is a 66% increase from 2017. The PR industry is evolving alongside the social climate, so establishing core values for a client will be a priority going forward. In light of recent social movements, consumers expect companies to take authentic stances on certain social issues, and prominent brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Nike, and AirBNB have led the charge on this matter.
Similarly, companies that lack clear policies on diversity and inclusion are at risk of falling behind their competitors. The increased focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion is not only necessary from an equitability standpoint, but it also increases profitability and overall performance. A McKinsey study found that businesses who embrace diversity experience a 19% increase in revenue and a 35% performance advantage.
The PR field is certainly different than it was in 2000, and it will change even more by 2025. Understanding these industry trends will prepare you for what’s to come and enhance your PR strategies in the next year.