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The nature of public relations (PR) has certainly changed over the years. Overpriced launch events and activations have fallen by the wayside as PR efforts gradually migrate to the digital landscape. The pandemic has only served to advance this trend, as reaching people remotely has become more important than ever. As society recovers and moves forward, there has also been a mindset shift in consumers. My agency, Boost Media, has taken note of seven important PR trends that can improve how brands engage and relate to the public.
1. Align your purpose with an audience audience
The pandemic has shown us both devastation and incredible acts of kindness the world over. During this time, we’ve experienced a drastic shift in values as well as discernment. As such, the emergence of an ethical audience is on the rise. Ethical awareness relates to one’s eagerness and ability to define moral situations and dilemmas by critically analyzing, evaluating and changing one’s own moral values in terms of the lives of others. An ethical audience is one who then actively interprets any shared material they come across and analyzes the content and messenger’s effectiveness.
Consumers are actively discerning between brands that are purposeful against those that are not, gravitating toward the former. To take an ethical audience into account, begin by knowing your brand values inside out, work on modeling these values and communicating these values to your audience.
2. Focus on engagement, not promotion, on social media
Social media platforms have completely revolutionized how individuals and brands can market themselves. The issue is, however, many see it only as a platform to promote their products or services. When it comes to social media, brands need to think of social media as a two-way street. No one enjoys it when another person ignores them, and the same can be said for when brands ignore their audience and treat social media as a one-way communication channel.
This year, focus on engaging with your audience. Respond to every DM and comment. Let those with complaints know you will DM them directly, and then do so. Follow other brands or individuals in your niche and like or comment on their content. It only takes one interaction to turn someone into a lifelong customer, and everyone knows lifelong customers make the best promoters.
3. Air your words on podcasts
Podcasts are the new broadcasting networks, so use them. Seriously, if you’re not being interviewed on podcasts, you’re not taking your PR strategy seriously enough. Whatever industry you’re in, you can bet there will be a fair number of podcasts suited to niche so why not make use of their audience? You’d be surprised at how many podcasts actively look for new guests and welcome being approached. If you lack free time or don’t know where to begin, bake this into your consideration when choosing a PR agency to work with.
4. Make space for more visuals
Words still matter, but they need to go hand-in-hand with visual content. With the rise of social media, there has been a dramatic change to how we consume media and what we might deem newsworthy. The same can be said in terms of our attention spans. Feature articles are an amazing way to boost credibility, but brands need to ensure they are putting out visual content to make themselves seen first.
For example, instead of having an article of your top questions and answers published, why not create a short rel with the same content. You can then post and also embed this reel into another feature article on you. Or vice versa; At the end of your reel, you can direct people to check out more by directing them to an article. In 2022, we are going to see a lot more brands utilizing the two hand-in-hand.
5. Shift toward micro- and nano-influencers
Influencer marketing has changed the game for brands. Utilizing public figures that are already known, liked and trusted is an amazing way for brands to get their products or service out there. The amount of mega- and macro-influencers promoting numerous, however, has caused a lot of scrutiny among consumers. Knowing these people are paid very well to promote products may have the opposite effect than intended, particularly if they promote other products that don’t align with your brand or audience’s values.
Using micro- or nano-influencers will be a great way to better utilize influencer marketing in 2022. Aside from costing your brand a lot less, the followers of these influencers are either very niched down, or know the influencer personally. This will work in your favor given that there will be more trust between the two than using someone with hundreds of thousands of followers.
6. Measure your efforts with data
Now, at Boost, we always advise that PR is a long-term play and cannot be measured in traditional ROI metrics. There is no point in implementing PR into your marketing strategy, however, if you don’t use data at all. Social media platforms have great insight metrics, with Instagram having just updated theirs to better suit the needs of businesses and creators. Similarly, other tools such as email marketing or funnels should be monitored before and after integrating press or podcast coverage into them so you can better measure results after.
7. Collaborate with other brands
Nothing gets people excited like seeing their two favorite artists collaborate on a new record. The same can be said for brands. Collaborating with another brand is a new way to create a surge of hypo and excitement. Whether it’s through a giveaway, product or service, or even a piece of content, people love it when their favorite brands come together.