The ways in which brands interact with and sell to their target audiences has changed dramatically over the last couple of years. As customers spend more time online, brands have more channels for meaningful touchpoints. However, you may find it more difficult to control your brand message. This explosion of contact opportunities between brand and buyer has put a new focus on PR efforts and blurred traditional lines separating PR and marketing teams. At TFG, we’ve been ahead of this trend for some time. Now, the industry at large is beginning to recognize the impact of this shift.

Enter the MuckRack 2022 State of PR Report. Each year, our media analytics partner, MuckRack, conducts a large-scale industry survey of PR Professionals. The survey captures both agency and in-house perspectives. This year, the study featured input from nearly 2,000 PR pros.

We’ve combed the report to analyze three key findings informing our current work and our strategic planning for the future.

Finding: Most PR pros say their budgets will increase over the next year.

Sophisticated marketers know that an economic downturn is no time to scale back on PR and marketing efforts. Those that do risk losing meaningful share of voice in the market and playing catch up is more challenging than maintaining momentum. In fact, a recent report found that more than half (60%) of brands that increased media investment during the last recession saw ROI improvements.

On the other hand, marketers that choose to cut their spending during a recession risk losing 15% of their revenue to competitors that increased spend. The research is clear: slashing marketing and PR spending during a recession can undermine results. And while boosting it can help your brand get ahead, brands must be strategic about how you spend that money. For instance, you may consider a shift in messaging or channel strategy to meet your customers where they are. The bottom line is that you must remember to think long-term. Investing in your brand, even during challenging times, will always pay off when done right.

Finding: More than half of PR pros believe the term “public relations” will need to be redefined in the next 5 years. (Also, most PR pros believe their relationship with marketing will be more important in the next 5 years.)

We agree. While earned media, awards and speaking programs, and social media management are still very valuable to our clients, “PR” now often means much more. When asked about their areas of focus, surveyed PR pros named “media relations” as their first priority (same as last year and no great surprise). But in 2022, “thought leadership” jumped into second place (it wasn’t even offered as an option in 2021).

The rise of thought leadership, and content marketing in general, represents a merging of “traditional” PR responsibilities (media relations) with “traditional” marketing duties (advertising). Creating meaningful thought leadership intertwines PR and marketing roles together in new and exciting ways. To operate in this space, PR pros must still be skilled writers, and navigate more writing types and formats. Today’s PR pro must also become adept at navigating media sponsorships, be familiar with SEO strategy and get comfortable executing paid social campaigns. In the coming years, PR pros and marketers will routinely team up to create content that authoritatively answers big questions on the minds of target audiences while boosting brand awareness and generating leads all at the same time.

Forward-looking PR teams have been building their marketing toolkit for years. The State of PR Report shows that the masses are catching up. Brands that hold on to their traditional PR and marketing silos risk limiting their growth and missing out on all-important brand building opportunities.

Finding: Strategic planning is the top skill for PR success in the next 5 years.

One of our core values at The Fletcher Group is that we are business people first. When planning PR and marketing initiatives, we ensure that every program is closely aligned with our client’s overall organizational objectives and KPIs. In other words, marketing and PR pros must never work in silos. To be successful, these teams need to prioritize high-level strategic planning and alignment to create programs that deliver meaningful ROI. In this way, PR pros create harmonious marketing and communication projects that win market share while conveying a brand’s identity and values simultaneously. Participating in high-level strategic planning makes your PR team integral to the integrated marketing mix and overall success of the business.

Throughout MuckRack’s State of PR Survey, we see a common thread among respondents highlighting the diversification of PR responsibilities and emphasizing the positive bottom-line impacts of PR/marketing collaborations. PR professionals from brands and agencies alike recognize the increasing importance of embracing their expanded strategic role across the entire marketing mix . Now is the time for public relations leaders to correlate their work with their brand’s specific business objectives and work closely with marketers to reach audiences, provide value and boost sales.

Need help integrating your PR and marketing plans to achieve strategic business objectives? We’re your content marketing partners.

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