2022 proved to be a standout year for creativity in PR.
Competition for awards has never been so fiercely contested, with category defining work re-setting the boundaries of the PR skillset, and at the same time many agencies enjoyed record-breaking financial results – a bumper year all round then…
As we close the year however, we find ourselves clutching a glass of rapidly warming champagne as we stare into the abyss—a new year which many predict will bring the worst recession since the 40s.
Naturally, there is a lot of apprehension as to what 2023 might bring the world of creative PR.
Now, I’m no Mystic Meg, but we have been here before, and whilst analysing the recent past is not a sure-fire way to predict the future, it could give us a few pointers.
Brands with the confidence to think long-term will be the winners.
Budgets and consumer spending will, of course, be impacted, but there’s plenty of evidence in previous downturns that brands that have the confidence to think long-term will win.
I believe the new year will see a much closer alignment between the advertising and PR worlds as budgets are cut and brands seek to scale their message organically via newsworthy content.
Earned first creativity will be at a premium, offering better value and less risk during the downturn.
There will be real consideration given to brand messaging and the type of campaigns launched in 2023.
Against the backdrop of economic hardship, rising energy prices, and living costs at an all-time high, the traditional ‘sell, sell, sell’ message is going to have to be positioned carefully.
Inevitably, this is going to lead to more purpose-led, empathetic messaging coupled with an approach that positions brands as being ‘helpful’ to consumers.
On the flipside, we will continue to see campaigns that aim to entertain first and sell second - bringing a smile to people’s faces during what promises to be the most challenging year in recent history.
Influencer-led campaigns will continue to attract huge investment.
This will be as a marketing model which can push to purchase whilst remaining tonally empathetic. There will, however, be far more emphasis (and scrutiny) on the quality and type of content created and posted under the #ad and #spon (sponsored) hashtags.
The ability for creative influencer-led content to cross channels and spark conversations above and beyond social will be the new holy grail—a big opportunity for PR agencies (with their native storytelling skillset) when competing in this field against ad agencies.
Inevitably, some CMO’s under pressure to deliver against huge sales targets during an economic downturn will apply a performance marketing filter to some of the PR work they oversee. We will also likely see an increased emphasis on SEO based creative work which will have a direct and quantifiable impact on traffic and ultimately sales.
Ultimately, these challenges present earned first creatives with a raft of opportunities.
This is not the time to go quiet – quite the reverse.
I believe there will be an appetite for bigger, bolder ideas which can cut through the gloom, and when we emerge from the economic woes, the brands that stayed in the limelight with impactful campaigns will win out.
The good news is that PR is supremely positioned (as proven during COVID), to win hearts and minds, recruit new customers, and build meaningful loyalty for the future.
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