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Riding The Tide of Change—5 Trends in Marketing Communications for 2023

We all know pub­lic rela­tions plays a huge role in help­ing ele­vate, pro­tect and build a brand. But that role con­tin­ues to evolve. Over the last year, we’ve seen a shift in how our clients approach their com­mu­ni­ca­tions plans as their key stake­hold­ers con­tin­ue to change their expec­ta­tions when it comes to what and how mes­sages are com­mu­ni­cat­ed from a com­pa­ny. To get a pulse on what we’re see­ing across indus­tries as we enter a new year, we asked our team what top­ics or themes have been ris­ing to the top of their dis­cus­sions as they help their clients devel­op their mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions plans for 2023.

Here are five trends that have risen to the top across the board:

1. Con­nect­ing the dots between exter­nal and inter­nal audi­ences—Look­ing back even just a few short years ago, inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions and exter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions used to be seen by orga­ni­za­tions as sep­a­rate ini­tia­tives, often man­aged by sep­a­rate teams with sep­a­rate plans and strate­gies. Fast for­ward to today and that is no longer the case as busi­ness­es of all sizes and all indus­tries con­tin­ue to rec­og­nize the impor­tance of con­sis­tent and authen­tic com­mu­ni­ca­tions with all their stake­hold­ers — both inter­nal AND exter­nal. The line between inter­nal and exter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions has been blur­ring for some time now, but we’ve seen the merg­er of the two more than ever as orga­ni­za­tions con­tin­ue to be dri­ven by the desire for greater trans­paren­cy and authen­tic­i­ty. When you are being trans­par­ent, it makes the lines of “inter­nal and exter­nal” more irrel­e­vant, as all audi­ences are equal­ly impor­tant. There is no doubt about it, the silos are com­ing down brick by brick as orga­ni­za­tions see the grow­ing impor­tance of align­ing mes­sag­ing both inter­nal­ly and exter­nal­ly ensures every­one is singing from the same songbook.

2. When it comes to com­mu­ni­ca­tions, it’s back to the basics—Whether it’s due to the pan­dem­ic, or in part to lead­ers rec­og­niz­ing the impor­tance clear and con­sis­tent com­mu­ni­ca­tions plays in every aspect of the busi­ness, many of our clients have shift­ed from the “just get it done” men­tal­i­ty to tak­ing a good hard look at what is work­ing and what isn’t when it comes to reach­ing key stake­hold­ers. Whether that is reex­am­in­ing and updat­ing cri­sis com­mu­ni­ca­tions plans, look­ing at inter­nal process­es for com­mu­ni­cat­ing through­out the orga­ni­za­tion, or rethink­ing how to com­mu­ni­cate with exter­nal stake­hold­ers, we’ve seen an increase in our clients look­ing to re-eval­u­ate how they are com­mu­ni­cat­ing with their key audiences.

“Now that things are feel­ing more sta­ble, there is a grow­ing desire to take a look at what is work­ing and what isn’t when it comes to com­mu­ni­cat­ing with key audi­ences,” said Johan­na Hol­ub, Account Super­vi­sor and Data + Insights Lead. “Whether that is re-eval­u­at­ing how effec­tive their inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions chan­nels are to eval­u­at­ing how well the con­tent on their web­site is per­form­ing, it’s been a year to reset and refo­cus on the basics and ask­ing, what are we doing well, and what can we do better.”

Senior Account Exec­u­tive, Amy Moon agrees. “In a recent meet­ing, our client shared that their focus for 2023 is to ensure a strong foun­da­tion by mak­ing sure the right pieces are in place as they con­tin­ue to grow their com­pa­ny. One of those key pieces is how they are com­mu­ni­cat­ing with both their inter­nal and exter­nal stakeholders.”

3. Focus­ing on cul­ture—Com­pa­ny cul­ture con­tin­ues to be a sig­nif­i­cant top­ic for employ­er brands, for both inter­nal and exter­nal audi­ences. Com­pa­ny lead­ers are ele­vat­ing their dis­cus­sions on the sub­ject, and they’re talk­ing about it with more pas­sion and more authen­tic­i­ty than in the past. At the same time, the most engaged and suc­cess­ful lead­ers are rec­og­niz­ing and con­sis­tent­ly rein­forc­ing one of the most impor­tant ele­ments of a thriv­ing cul­ture: empa­thy. It’s not a new trend – we wrote about the emerg­ing focus on empa­thy two years ago. But as we all con­tin­ue to nav­i­gate the numer­ous pro­fes­sion­al and per­son­al hur­dles in our way, from the pan­dem­ic to a loom­ing reces­sion, empa­thy is play­ing a more crit­i­cal role in main­tain­ing a company’s cul­ture than ever before.

4. Strength­en­ing and feed­ing owned plat­forms—It may seem over­ly obvi­ous at this point, but it’s worth say­ing again: social media con­tin­ues to be key when it comes to con­nect­ing and engag­ing with key audi­ences and to build loy­al­ty and pref­er­ence for a brand. How­ev­er, how con­sumers use social media and their expec­ta­tions of brands on social plat­forms con­tin­ues to change. We’ve been work­ing with our clients to iden­ti­fy effec­tive ways to not only strength­en their social plat­forms, but also in devel­op­ing a steady cadence of con­tent that is engag­ing and con­sis­tent across all mar­ket­ing efforts.

“When the pan­dem­ic took hold, we piv­ot­ed more toward help­ing our clients strength­en a rare thing they felt in con­trol of: owned media,” says Pres­i­dent Bri­an Bell­mont. “Today, we’re see­ing the last­ing effects of our pan­dem­ic efforts as clients con­tin­ue to focus on and devote addi­tion­al resources to ensur­ing web­sites, newslet­ters, email mar­ket­ing, pod­casts and more are more effec­tive­ly engag­ing with their audi­ences than ever before.”

Con­tent Mar­ket­ing Strate­gist Mad­die Michaud agrees. “I’ve been see­ing a huge push toward build­ing and ensur­ing cohe­sive brand nar­ra­tives across mar­ket­ing chan­nels, espe­cial­ly with clients who have dig­i­tal and brick-and-mor­tar pres­ences. Clients are work­ing to make sure their cus­tomers have the same expe­ri­ence, no mat­ter how they inter­act with the brand.”

And when it comes to feed­ing owned plat­forms, video con­tin­ues to be a top priority.

“Social media plat­forms have been pri­or­i­tiz­ing video con­tent in their algo­rithms, and peo­ple are con­sum­ing it as fast as it’s pro­duced,” said Stacey Robert­son, Account Strate­gist. “It’s become an incred­i­bly effec­tive way to com­mu­ni­cate a brand’s sto­ry, gain brand aware­ness and loyalty.”

5. Con­tin­ued focus on influ­encers—For brands look­ing to con­nect with con­sumers of any age – but espe­cial­ly mil­len­ni­als and Gen Z – work­ing with influ­encers can be one sol­id tac­tic to build aware­ness and pref­er­ence. This helps build third-par­ty cred­i­bil­i­ty for brands and reach more poten­tial customers.

Account Super­vi­sor Sara Gras­mon has been help­ing clients nav­i­gate the world of influ­encers. “As influ­encer rela­tions con­tin­ues to be a top pri­or­i­ty for sev­er­al of our clients in the tourism and events space, we’ve been help­ing them estab­lish suc­cess­ful part­ner­ships. By set­ting clear goals and being trans­par­ent about what we’re able to offer from the get go, we can work with each influ­encer to deter­mine if the part­ner­ship will be a good fit. Upfront, hon­est com­mu­ni­ca­tion is key in nav­i­gat­ing the world of influ­encer rela­tions and devel­op­ing suc­cess­ful, mutu­al­ly ben­e­fi­cial partnerships.”

While there are like­ly more changes ahead when it comes to com­mu­ni­cat­ing with your key stake­hold­ers, these are just a few insights to keep in mind as you con­tin­ue to refine your plans for the year ahead. And as always, we love to hear from you as well. What trends are you see­ing when it comes to mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions strate­gies in 2023?

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