Eighteen months into the COVID pandemic and the ground still feels unsettled under our feet. So how do businesses plan for growth in a time of hyper-rapid change? Your PR and content marketing plans must tap into new trends and technologies. A future-proof strategy means being ready to pivot quickly to capitalize on this ever-changing environment to generate true brand awareness that affects perceptions and action. 

Media is raising the bar on SMEs.

Increasingly, media outlets want to ensure the experts they are publishing or quoting are, well, actually experts. Gone are the days when you can put a sales or marketing exec’s name on a byline and get published. In 2022, outlets want proven SMEs. Want to show up in a finance trade publication? Your spokespeople will need to bring financial industry bona fides to the table. You can help these technical experts bring their message to market in a way that both stands out and resonates. Use your expertise to make their expertise shine.

All spokespeople need to be multimedia ready.

In the era of zoom, phone and email interviews are phasing out in favor of more live video, vlog and podcast conversations. Plan for this trend to ramp up on social channels in 2022 as industry podcasts and apps features like Twitter Spaces become more sought-after interview platforms. 

Worried about putting your data scientist in front of a camera or on a live interview? Get them prepped with message and media training for at home, “on-camera” interviews. That includes prep with lighting, camera placement, body language and conversational skills without reading notes.  

The nationwide staffing issue is impacting media too.

It’s a fact that both national and trade media outlets are woefully short-staffed, experiencing high turnover rates and recruiting younger reporters with less experience to handle larger assignments. 

What does this mean for you? While it can be frustrating to pitch reporters less familiar with your industry, it’s also a big opportunity to educate and build relationships with a new generation of industry journalists. These relationships will pay off, both in the near term, when short-staffed outlets need quality third-party content to keep pace with a fast-moving news cycle; and in the long-run, when your go-to junior reporters move into larger roles at major national and digital outlets. 

People and algorithms want more from your content.  

It’s time to revisit your criteria for quality when crafting owned content because the bar is higher here, too. There’s a lot to unpack to get to the bottom of this trend, but here are three areas to consider in your 2022 planning: 

1.) Resonate more, with more people: The way people consume news and information is broader than ever. Embrace it and get more reach out of the same content calendar. The New York Times is a great example of a media company embracing this trend: the outlet takes a multi-channel approach to reach a maximum number of people, via broad digital article libraries, free podcasts like The Daily and opt-in newsletters like The Morning.

To grow your audience, take a page from the Times playbook and repurpose your content across all of these channels – think audio, video, and targeted distribution channels like newsletters or Substack pages. This may mean building your own presence or seeking a media partner through whom you can tap into the audiences you can’t reach directly on your own.

2.) This article was written by AI? Nope. At least not yet. But make no mistake – AI is playing a big role in content creation, and this trend will continue. There are more than 22,000 monthly searches for terms related to AI content writing – that’s a lot of people trying to farm out their copy!

But while there are plenty of services willing to oblige, this technology still has its limits and human intervention plays an essential role. AI tools can help with SEO, new topic ideas and keeping simple messages on brand to ensure consistency across channels, but based on our tests, they still need smart, strategic content creators to deliver the foundation and the polish to bring good content to life.

3.) Optimizing for search and social: Ongoing changes to search and social algorithms will always keep content creators on their toes. This is especially true in the payments and fintech space as big tech continues to refine their ad policies around finance topics from credit to crypto.

These changes may impact how your content appears in searches, and how or if your ads will run in the Metaverse and across other platforms. Google’s latest Quality Standards continue to emphasize that content for “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) pages receive very high page quality rating standards.

Data is more important than ever.

Forward thinking PR and marketing teams have been collecting and analyzing data for ages and today there are more ways to measure the things that matter than ever before. Many in the industry are still catching up, however. While more than half of PR and marketing firms measure the impact of their work on website traffic, not even one third measure SEO metrics (like Domain Authority, Page Authority, Global Rank, or Spam Score), according to Muck Rack’s new study. 

Even fewer are tracking their company’s Share of Voice. Are you? How about Sales, Pipeline or Revenue numbers? Work within your organization to identify the metrics that are most meaningful to the business and start tracking results that go way beyond coverage.

The PR and marketing landscape will continue to evolve rapidly, and the most successful PR and marketing teams will learn and grow along the way. 

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