A Thoroughly Post-Pandemic Intellect
Amongst his many witticisms, Oscar Wilde once wrote, “to expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect”. This statement rings stingingly true in the pandemic-altered business environment, which has become thoroughly ingrained with the outlook of expecting the unexpected over the last two years.
Whether you’re thinking of bringing on board PR this year, or already have a PR team working for you, you may be wondering what 2022 will look like from a PR perspective. Here’s a few pointers on what Publicité is expecting and what we would advise organisations to do in the face of another year of uncertainty.
Planning ahead is very important every year, so this has to be first and foremost. If you haven’t already briefed your PR team in on your 2022, and specifically Q1 plans, now is the time to do it. Your team should have content plans, forward features, awards and events scheduled into your PR calendar.
Make sure background research has been undertaken internally or externally, such as competitor and media reviews, to ensure you are up to speed with what’s happening in your sector before the year gets fully underway.
Whilst effective planning is crucial, flexibility is even more critical for 2022. This year will be another year of uncertainty and volatility for most sectors. Whilst there is some optimism and a certain degree of understanding of how to operate in this environment there is no predicting what will really happen. Adaptability will have to be ingrained into all plans and the mindset of your organisation.
Considering different risks or obstacles that may appear and setting some alternative plans in place will be helpful. For instance, if your organisation is planning to attend any events in person, consider what you will do if the event is cancelled or moves online. These don’t have to be full plans of action, but putting some forethought into the matter and disseminating or noting down ideas on how to manage or make a success of these scenarios may help your team make the best of the situation if it arises.
Political and environmental volatility means you need to expect and prepare for more regular contact with your PR team than usual to ensure you are responding quickly and appropriately to the turbulent news cycle.
This works both ways, whilst your PR team may be updating you with news or opportunities to comment on, you should also make sure to keep them regularly in the loop with business updates, such as if there are factors that impact press releases. This helps PR executives plan your content better, respond to the media accurately and utilise time on your account most effectively.
Keeping in contact doesn’t need to be onerous, or require long meetings, but should be structured as much as possible to ensure nothing is missed. Putting in the diary weekly, bi-weekly or monthly short catch-ups, as well as longer quarterly planning, assessment and brainstorming meetings is advised. Make sure there is an established point of contact on your team who is responsible for liaising with PR in the case of any immediate crises, surprises or compelling opportunities.
Key messages should be reviewed for 2022 – make sure they are accurate and your team, particularly spokespeople, are clear on these messages.
Aside from business messaging and individual industry challenges, the three universal themes most businesses will likely need to address within their PR in some form will be:
- Sustainability and environmental credentials
- Diversity, equity and inclusion
- Workplace safety and wellbeing
Getting your messaging in line, and honest strategies in place to deal with these issues will be critical. Customers are demanding more transparency, and becoming skilled at spotting misleading or weak responses to these issues (such as greenwashing initiatives or statements). You must ensure honest, clear cut answers are provided if faced with these questions.
Another way to counter all the uncertainly is creativity. Lead the way with creative ideas, unique stories and exciting strategies that will make you stand out. Try to schedule some time for out-of-the-box thinking and brainstorming. There may be more opportunities to issue reactive statements or pitches, as the news cycle is less predictable and ‘real-life’ voices are regularly needed. Think vertically and look into different areas where your expertise may be of interest to creatively build your brand awareness and reputation.