Looking to the future
I think it is fair to say 2022 has been a difficult year. We all thought that, after the pandemic, we were due for a bit of respite in 2022 but Mr Putin and the global economy seem to have had other ideas.
It’s tempting to be all doom and gloom about things as they are – interest rates are rising, inflation is at a high and, as I look out of my window, it’s cold and wet. It’s also quite easy for business owners to be negative about prospects for the new year…
The truth is, there is still money in the system. People still need things and there are still amazing opportunities for growth. Things will calm down and our economy will bounce back, although some are predicting we will have to overcome a poor start to 2023.
So what PR trends are we going to see in 2023, and how are they going to affect you?
Paid contribution models
The big prediction is that, with a contraction in the economy, the model for press coverage will change. Traditional media, which has been shifting to an online model for years, will increasingly move towards a paid contribution model. You can’t really blame them; some haven’t been making a real profit for years.
This won’t be the case for every media outlet, but it will mean that access points to publications that operate a non-paid contribution model will become crowded. This means getting ‘free’ editorial for clients may become more challenging.
Podcasts and influencers
I know people have been talking about this for years, but the reality is podcasters are now a big player in the PR industry. You just need to look at high-profile moves to sites like Spotify, which operate advertising and subscription services, to see the reach and value of a successful podcast.
In the week I’m writing this, ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno’ issued its last podcast after over 430 million downlands and global tours, but with hints of something new (you don’t stop a franchise like that without good reason). ‘Parenting Hell’ with Josh Widdicombe and Rob Beckett has recently moved to Spotify and it’s going to embark on a UK arena tour in 2023. Even a relative newcomer like Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart’s ‘Rest is Politics’ podcast is selling out the Royal Albert Hall.
Of course, for every global behemoth, there are thousands of minnows, but the fact is podcasts can have an enormous reach and that is why many of them have adverts and PR companies are clearly targeting them for coverage.
What we are seeing is a slow fragmentation of the PR landscape. The traditional model, exemplified by the large PR company with long-established links to the main media outlets, is going. Partly this is because the outlets are changing but also, in an economic downturn when everyone is looking to cut costs, the large price tags charged by these big PR companies have become unsustainable.
Instead, businesses need to work with smaller, more agile PR companies that are able to build face-to-face (or at least Zoom-to-Zoom) connections between their clients and the journalists they want to reach. At a time when access to publications operating a non-paid contributor model is becoming more crowded, it is these personal connections that will make the difference. Whether it's for getting your story into a specialist industry publication or your client onto local radio. The outlets for publicity still exist, we just have to work harder at building and maintaining the relationships that will bear fruit.
Smaller agencies are often also keener to look at new avenues for publicity. All the big companies are now leaping on the podcast juggernaut, but only with the big names in podcasting.
It is smaller, more agile PR companies that can look for new avenues; find the smaller, currently unknown, podcasters that could go big. A PR specialist operating in a big company will not have the freedom to necessarily find new opportunities because ultimately they need to justify their actions to both the client AND their bosses.
As we go into 2023, it is certainly an interesting time for public relations. At Blueberry PR, we understand that finding the perfect match between client and outlet is the most important thing. There is no point in spending the money required to get a client onto a global podcast like Off Menu if the business only operates locally. This may stroke the ego of the PR executive and the client, but it will be ultimately fruitless.
Instead, we work at building an expert understanding of the client, their needs and the opportunities that are available to them. As we move into 2023, this approach is going to be more important than ever for companies looking to grow throughout what could be a challenging year.
With that, I’m going to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!