What are the top trends in PR that will be relevant for thought leaders, solopreneurs, freelancers and consultants in 2022?
As we embark on a new year, we continue to face many unknowns. One constant, however, is the need to communicate effectively with all those who interact with our business, (our stakeholders) including customers, employees, suppliers and the local community.
But as many of us work on our own, sometimes with a little help, what activities do focus on that will give us the greatest return on our investment of precious time and budget?
I have collated and reviewed insights from some of the leading PR professionals and selected the trends which I believe are the most important for those of us running our own business.
1. Clarity of message
Putting your audience at the heart of your communications is the most important thing you can do this year. Understanding what your audience wants to hear is essential as it often differs from what you might want to say. In addition, know the true value of the work you do. Many businesses focus on what they do, or how they do it, but the ‘gold’ is the difference that using your product or service will make to your customer.
2. Communication competence and confidence
Once you have your messaging nailed, it’s time to clearly, confidently, articulate it. Don’t hide in the shadows and expect your work to speak for itself. We are all the promoters of our own work.
There are so many ways for us to reach our audience that we need to become as good as we can be at sharing our message in our preferred platforms whether that is video, writing and/or in person.
You could join a public-speaking club, such as Toastmasters to build your confidence at networking groups or speaking at events, practice and hone your writing skills (or find a copywriter), or work with a communications professional like me… 😊
Authenticity is key. We are all human, and we appreciate being spoken to as an individual person. Make 2022 the year you find and use your own voice. Consider sharing stories about your journey, your highs and lows, and lessons learned. These stories are what make you interesting and unique. There is a wealth of data that shows that sharing stories creates a deeper connection with our audience. But there is a caveat: you are building a reputation as a trusted professional for the long-term, so decide carefully what you will share. Take care that the story doesn’t overshadow your value and expertise as the most memorable thing about you.
Keep your stories relevant and interesting to your audience.
Consider using video, particularly for short-form stories on platforms such as Instagram Reels, TikTok, YouTube shorts and others, as this will enable your audience to get to know you better.
The pandemic has seen a huge rise in empathetic communications, and greater transparency and open dialogue with employees and customers. In my opinion, this is a good thing. More human-to-human dialogue, with greater understanding and awareness for how those around us are feeling, is a positive step forward.
Working with social media micro-influencers can represent a real opportunity to reach new audiences and provide a great return on investment, particularly if you have a limited budget. A 2019 survey by The Influencer Marketing Hub (partnered with Viral Nation and NeoReach) showed the ROI for influencer marketing is estimated at £6 for every £1 spent and, in some cases, has been reported to be as high as £20 or more.
Micro-influencers are those with between 1,000 and 10,000 followers, many of whom are highly engaged. Data from 2018, shows that influencers with only 1,000 followers generated an 85% higher engagement rate than those with accounts with 100,000 followers. And this percentage continues to rise.
These smaller influencers are generally open to collaborations with providers of products and services in a way that results in genuine, authentic posts, rather than sponsored content. As there is such a close connection between the influencers and their audience, there has to be absolute synergy between your product or service and both of these.
Working with micro-influencers can be particularly useful for local campaigns targeting customers in a small geographic area, or specialist, niche audiences. It’s worth spending the time to find micro-influencers in your local area, and/or specific niche, and starting to build connections with them.
6. Guest posting and interviews
Online is here to stay. Using Zoom and Teams for meetings and interviews is fast becoming the norm meaning that we must get confident and professional on camera.
You may find this blog article interesting: How to deliver a great speech on Zoom
There continues to be a growth in online publishing platforms, such as Medium, along with online editions of top magazines and news outlets, all of which are hungry for quality, relevant and timely news and human-interest stories. Bring your ‘A-game’ when you pitch your story and once it has been published, you will have many opportunities to leverage your coverage by sharing across your website and social media channels.
On-demand audio is continuing to see significant growth. According to the Podcast Industry Report Spotify is projected to be the most popular podcast platform in the US, where podcast listeners are increasing 10% year on year. This brings opportunities to pitch yourself as a guest interviewee. Research your target podcasts carefully and make a tailored pitch to the podcast host, detailing what you can bring to the conversation that will be of value to their audience.
Guest blogging, or guest posting, where you write content for another website, can be effective in raising your profile. It will do this by attracting traffic back to your own website and boosting the domain authority of your website using external backlinks from high authority sites. As with podcasts, do your research carefully. Find out who is accepting guest blogs within your industry.
7. Awareness – social listening
Just as important as getting yourself out there, is being aware of what is being said about you when you are ‘not in the room’. Learn how to use social listening tools to monitor social media channels for mentions of your brand, competitors and more. There is a wealth of information here that can provide insights into your audiences’ attitudes and opinions about you and your competitors. It can also provide a potential ‘heads up’ on opportunities to act. Social listening goes deeper than social media monitoring. It involves analysing sentiment.
Social listening will help you to:
- engage more effectively with your audience, as it will provide a steer on what they are thinking.
- know what your competitors are doing. Are they launching a new product or marketing campaign?
- understand what’s working and what isn’t. As a student, I was always told “the market will tell you what it wants”.
- avoid crises before they happen. It can act as an early warning system, alerting you to both positive and negative sentiments.
- identify opportunities for collaboration and partnerships.
The role of communications is, arguably, more important now than at any time in modern history. There are many creative ways to make our voices heard – social media, website blogging, newsletter, to name but a few.
As business owners, we must proactively take responsibility for building our reputation and personal brand with authenticity and credibility.
Global predictions tell us that ‘people around the world are optimistic that 2022 will be a better year’. I feel optimistic about 2022 and can’t wait to share more insights, tips and inspirations throughout the year. If you haven’t already signed up for my newsletter, you can do so here.
Thank you for reading and happy New Year.
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