And just like that, a new year is in full swing yet again!

I’d started writing this PR trends piece a few times, and then realised that ChatGPT could probably do an equally good (and much quicker) job than me, hence why it’s taken 23 days into the year for me to share my thoughts on this year’s PR trends.

I wanted to make sure the value I was providing was better than AI. Wishful thinking?!

As a PR agency, staying ahead of the curve and anticipating PR trends is crucial for our success. It’s not enough to just react to current social sentiment, we strive to predict and adapt to future developments in the industry. By doing so, we can ensure that we are always prepared for what’s to come.

Why are marketers obsessed with predicting trends?

The agency/client relationship relies on us doing this well. We know that our clients want strategy, planning, and stability, so it’s our job to be the buffer in this chaotic world. Never more so than in the past three years.

That’s why we’re always banging on about PR trends. Not just to show off our Mystic Meg capabilities, but to genuinely reassure the brands working with us that we know what lies ahead and how to navigate it.

It’s essential to understand the current mindset and needs of target customer groups when planning campaigns. By relating to people in their current state, our clients’ campaigns will be more effective and successful. That’s why it’s important to anticipate where these audiences will be at the time of the campaign launch and tailor our strategies to suit.

Surely you couldn’t predict the last few years though?

I mean, none of us saw 2020+ coming, but I haven’t done too badly when it comes to predicting PR trends over the past couple of years.

As we continued to ride the Corona-coaster in 2021, I talked about the importance of values-led comms and using insights to truly understand consumer behaviours. I said that agencies needed to find creative models of working to make them more accessible to clients with dwindling budgets. Whilst also being considerate of how to generate more bang for a clients’ buck: delivering multi-channel messaging for less money.

On the back of us launching Pocket Sized PR during lockdown, 2021 also saw the rise of DIY PR and other subscription-style platforms. An area that has continued to grow ever since.

Unsurprisingly, my obsession with purpose-driven comms was still at the top of the list going into 2022. Fake news took a backseat, and marketing and PR teams had to cut through the clutter to win the hearts and minds of consumers. Brands found the power in their vulnerability and holding their hands up when they made mistakes.

Emerging from lockdowns and into some sort of normality, I predicted a strange juxtaposition between IRL and online experiences. Whilst brands embraced the Metaverse (the new “let’s float it down the Thames…”), PR stunts and experiential events made a comeback.  

So, what’s next?

Recession. Cost of living crisis. The ‘soft life’. The 2023 buzzwords are out in full force, and we’re only a few weeks in. But what really lies ahead for this year’s PR trends and how will they impact the way that we work?

Unfortunately, we’re already hearing about brands cutting back on marketing spend and agencies making big redundancies. Here are my thoughts from last year on why cutting your PR agency isn’t the answer. It’s not written by AI and well worth a read.

Back to this year’s PR trends and what we’re concentrating on as an agency. Here’s what we’ve put on our clients’ radars for this year, and what we’re focusing our efforts on as a team…

PR and marketing will continue to blend

The integration of PR and marketing has been increasing in recent years and will continue to do so. To achieve great results, it’s important to integrate plans and avoid siloed activities. We’ve witnessed the limitations of having PR and marketing operate separately in the past, when we were brought on as an agency and were only involved in one aspect of a campaign.

To create a powerful and integrated communications strategy that resonates, it’s essential for all parties to collaborate closely; so this year will see multi-channel campaigns created by multi-agency partnership working. Don’t be afraid to share skills and ideas!

The devil is in the data

We’re always talking about ‘“stats and facts” but they really are important. This year, we’re advising clients – and strategizing within our team – about how surveys, focus groups, and on-the-ground activity can play a part in building credibility.

Gone are the days that we just commission YouGov surveys to hit the headlines; we need to be diving into the data to truly understand what customers want and need.

Choose your purpose… and stick to it

Authenticity is key. Full stop. Time and time again we advise people not to jump on bandwagons and suddenly stand up for something they never have before. Consumers are savvy and they’ll hold you to account, so it’s even easier for them to call out brands who are greenwashing their way to B Corp status.

Much like we do with our own TeamEV Charter, one of this year’s biggest – and most important – PR trends is to find your purpose and put it at the heart of your business. Then ensure you have action-packed evidence to show what you’re doing about it.

Seek out your advocates and treat them well

Advocacy is a powerful tool when used correctly. PR originated from the concept of utilising credible journalists to endorse products and services in order to build strong reputations. Today, this approach is still relevant as journalists, influencers, customers, and employees can all act as a collective sales team for a business. The key is to know how to effectively engage and cultivate these relationships.

At EAST VILLAGE., we prioritize understanding the customer journey and experience before developing a PR strategy. We work closely with our clients to identify opportunities to enhance the customer experience and ensure that the reputation being built aligns with the actual customer journey. Without a positive customer experience, all efforts in building brand awareness would be futile.

Your value will be the most ‘valuable’ thing to sell

Price point is an important consideration, especially in times of economic uncertainty. To effectively market your product or service, it is essential to understand the true value it offers to customers. This value should be the foundation of any marketing and comms strategy.

TeamEV always remind one another that we are selling solutions to problems, not just products or services. Brands that will excel this year will be those that put themselves in their customers’ shoes and consider what’s in it for them. By doing so, they will be able to effectively communicate this message through their PR and marketing efforts.

2023 presents a host of opportunities, amidst its challenges and changes. This year, we intend to closely work with our clients in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of their customers’ preferences and employees’ expectations.

By considering the broader macro environment too, including the economy and technology, EAST VILLAGE. will be crafting campaign strategies that effectively resonate with our clients’ target audiences.

We place great emphasis on tracking our success beyond superficial metrics such as coverage count and AVE. Our approach focuses on understanding the target audience, identifying the key messages to communicate, and measuring the desired actions taken as a result. This holistic approach to measuring success sets us apart in both campaign planning and demonstrating our value as an agency.

How did Mystic Meg do mapping out this year’s PR trends? Have I got you thinking about how to improve your marketing strategy in 2023?  

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