Remember when we thought that 2021 would be different from 2020? Then there were hopes that 2022 could only be better than 2021. Well, if we have learned anything over the past two years, it is that we can (unfortunately) rely on the unreliable when it comes to our expectations.
This holds true for the public relations industry as firms and their clients have ridden the waves of everchanging expectations due to the coronavirus’s never ending global impact of quarantines, re-openings, more lockdowns, and an uncertainty of when it all may end.
Now, factor in all the political unrest, and a dash of natural disasters, and what we have is the clear need to be flexible and adapt to the circumstances that surround us because so much is out of our control – no matter how much we plan an announcement, a campaign, or a big event.
And what this means for the future of PR, well, we can’t be certain. But we do expect there to be a few things professionals should consider throughout 2022 and beyond. Three of them include:
Having a Backup Plan, and a Backup to Your Backup Plan: At this moment in time, it’s impossible to know if plans six months from now, heck, even two weeks from now, will take place. The emergence of COVID-19 Delta and Omicron variants caught many off guard and forced people to rethink their plans – whether this meant going virtual, cancelling all together, or moving forward with increased safety and health precautions. It will be critical for PR pros to maintain an elevated level of adaptability that allows them to tweak their plans, be it for an editorial calendar or rescheduling a big announcement in order to go with the flow of 2022.
Being More Flexible with Journalists: We already knew there were fewer reporters taking on increased stories as the journalism industry shrinks across the country. But now, couple that with the “Great Resignation” and there might not even be enough reporters out there to cover all the news that is taking place. As a result, PR pros more than ever need to work to build better and stronger relationships, accommodate unexpected schedule changes that journalists may throw out, and try to meet last minute deadlines. Over time, taking small steps to foster a bond between the client and reporter will go a long way.
Looking for PR Successes Outside Traditional Media: Of course, we all want to get our clients a major national hit in The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, or even on the evening news, but that won’t always be the case. Not that these were easy hits to secure before, but with fewer reporters and fewer opportunities, we need to look at other avenues that also have amazing reach.
Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have the potential to be just as influential with audiences (if not more so when it comes to Millennials and Gen Z) as traditional media outlets. For example, The Wall Street Journal has a daily print and online readership of more than 2.8 million people, but Instagram has more than 1.3 billion subscribers. So just imagine the immense potential a video or photo has to reach plenty of people and be a remarkable success for a client.
So, what it all comes down to when we’re planning out our year, is we need to make sure we leave a little wiggle room to accommodate the ever-changing landscape. Doing so will make it a little easier for clients to adapt to the challenges that come with plans getting thrown out the window.