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2023 PR Predictions – Retailbound

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We don’t exactly have a crystal ball to look into the future of PR, but we can make educated guesses based on our experiences and analysis. Here is our 2023 PR trends forecast: 

AFFILIATE MARKETING

The gift guide climate really evolved this year with affiliate links and/or major online retailer availability becoming a requirement for coverage in several of the top-tier publications. As publications continue to lose ad revenue and cut staff, we will likely see this trend continue in 2023. We’ve written extensively about how to get started with affiliate marketing as a brand. Be sure to download our guide “Affiliate Marketing & Public Relations: Partnering for Success” for answers to any questions.

MORE FREELANCERS & FEWER “STAFFERS”

The publishing industry has changed dramatically over the past year. Vanity Fair calls it a “bad winter for media companies” with major publications laying off journalists and making massive budget cuts. The result is a changed newsroom dynamic where freelancers pitch story ideas to multiple editors, often not knowing themselves where or when an article might run. “With layoffs of journalists in major news outlets, we no longer can solely rely on databases or past relationships we, as publicists, have established,” says Orca Communications publicist Debbie Koke. She’s noticed that many media members are being stretched thin, often covering more than one beat. 

Debbie says, “I am finding that many major news outlets are relying more heavily on syndicated articles to fill the void, as well as contracting assignments out to contributors and freelance writers for articles. This has led to me having to spend extra time and effort researching and updating my media contact lists as my usual “go-to’s” may no longer be employed or have gone to different outlets or mediums entirely. The current state of media is in a constant state of flux as traditional mediums, such as print newspapers and magazines, transition over to digital media on what seems like a weekly basis. This leads to losing and establishing new relationships at an incredibly fast pace. And as a publicist, relationships are everything to me.” 

These changes in the industry also mean our PR clients will need to be patient when we don’t have immediate answers to some of their questions about media requests. 

“THE ECONOMY” AS A NEWS DRIVER

Orca Communications publicist, Aaron Sanders jokingly called it his “conspiracy theory,” but it is rooted in reality. The Economy will likely dominate headlines and commerce trends throughout 2023. An October report from the International Monetary Fund predicts “the worst is yet to come” and regardless of whether or not that’s true, it will certainly be part of the news cycle. As PR professionals, we need to be mindful of this when pitching products and stories to the press. Aaron says, “I believe the obvious trends towards recession have been undercovered and maybe swept under the rug a little bit in Q3 and Q4 of this year because so many outlets now have a vested interest (i.e. e-commerce) in getting people to spend money on consumer goods and services. The role a potential recession plays in PR remains to be seen, but I think there will be strong opportunities in 2023 for products that can save people money or are truly helpful.”

PAID MEDIA BLENDING INTO PR

Orca Communications publicists, Jennifer LaVoie-Trimble and Tana Siebold predict the lines between paid and earned media will blur even more in 2023. Jennifer is noticing a trend where editors only seem interested in covering a brand in an editorial way after the company also agrees to place an advertisement in their publication. Tana echos that observation within the family and parenting magazine space. “My go-to contacts at so many of these publications have moved on or have their advertising dept reach out to my pitches. It is disheartening!” says Tana. 

A successful blogger we work with in the parenting space says editors in her genre are just trying to make a living, “While I understand that their job is it to get earned PR, our livelihood depends on paid advertising. Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE to work with PR firms, in fact, I have great relationships with quite a few. Orca is one of the PR firms that I have a very positive relationship with,” says Orlando Mom Collective editor Eryn Vargo. “Orlando Mom Collective is my business. It is my full-time job and how I support my family! We NEED paying advertising clients or we cannot do what we do- provide resources, guides, different parenting perspectives, events, and community for moms.”

Eryn provides a list of advice for companies looking for editorial inclusion in regional parenting magazines & blogs: 

“When companies contact me looking for features, I am looking for value. 

  • What can my audience get out of this?
  • Will this be a good fit for the editorial coverage that we have coming up? 
  • Can my team try this and give an honest review? 
  • Is this something that we would love to have as a paid client (because we see a much bigger collaboration)?”

Collaboration, opportunity, and value is key to the future of PR.

SUBSTACK AND SIMILAR EMAIL PLATFORMS

Today’s consumers are seeking out a niche and original content. The result of their hunt for information is new media platforms opening new doors and opportunities for brands looking to connect with their audiences. Millions of writers and creators are using Substack and similar paid email platforms to inform and entertain subscribers. These creators are building community through content creation. These are excellent opportunities for editorial collaboration because the audience is almost guaranteed to be engaged and interested in the content being published. “I think yesterday’s basic blog is tomorrow’s email newsletter,” says Orca publicist Tammy Marino. “Media database companies need to get with the times and deliver up-to-date contact info for those newsletters and other off-the-beaten-path media formats like podcasts and social media influencers,” she continues. 

Opportunities to get company products reviewed and stories told are endless. Substack reports that it has over 500,000 paid subscribers and millions of readers. The platform launched in 2017, but really exploded in 2021 as writers (possibly some of those laid off editorial staffers mentioned above) started their own paid Substack communities. 

Other trending online communities include Slack Channels, Discord Servers, Twitch Servers, and Subreddits that could all open doors to new audiences.

SHORT FORM VIDEO & “CREATOR” MENTIONS

Influencer marketing will continue to expand beyond the simple image or video post. TikTok exploded with influencers in 2022, YouTube added a short-form video function, and Instagram became heavily saturated with Reels. That, combined with an uptick in shoppable posts and LIVE shopping features, makes us all but certain that short-form video and “creator” mentions will reign supreme in 2023. Brands and PR reps will want to take advantage of this through influencer marketing campaigns that focus on nano and micro-influencers and by encouraging user-generated content (UGC).

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO) DRIVEN DIGITAL PR

PR traditionally builds brand awareness through the press and media. But those old-school print publications are all but dead. Now there’s a new way to increase your visibility: Search Engine Optimization. In 2022, Google announced an upgrade to its algorithm that rewards and prioritizes websites that have 3rd party endorsements and mentions from other credible websites. Media mentions are key here! The algorithm favors websites that are seen as credible experts for any given search topic and/or keyword. 

2023 is the year when publicists should start optimizing their press releases for specific keywords (if they aren’t already doing so). A savvy publicist might take it even a step further by optimizing their pitch headlines for the target publication’s keywords, not just those of the brand they’re pitching. Perhaps an editor would be more likely to open a pitch and/or cover a pitch when it better serves their own credibility, authority, and bottom line. 

“METAVERSE” AND VR-READY GIFT GUIDES

In the early 2020s, we saw brands toy with marketing in the Metaverse. Hyundai ran campaigns on a video game platform, Nike bought a whole NFT studio, and big fashion brands like Gucci launched exclusive NFT clothes. In 2023, we will likely see PR opportunities form in the Metaverse as well. This year, Babylist created a VR-ready shoppable gift guide. There is also a growing list of Metaverse networking opportunities and immersive VR events that could be a path for brands to expand their communications strategies in the future. 

These are just a few examples of our predictions of the future of PR. In our 20+ years of existence as a PR firm, we’ve successfully worked through the evolution from print publications to bloggers and influencers, from picking up the phone to pitch editors as a standard practice to new standards of email and social media. We’re excited for 2023 and the new technologies and styles that will come along with it – bring it on!

This guest blog post was provided by Amanda Green at ORCA Communications. Ready to launch a PR campaign for your new and innovative product? Contact Amanda at [email protected] to get more information on how her team can help you out.

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