2022 is upon us (yes I know it’s already March!) and at Orchard we’re always looking ahead to see what we can expect from the world of communications. With new developments in technology and new social media channels playing a major role in how clients communicate with their audience, the world of PR continues to diversify. I’ve picked out six major trends from across the industry that we should expect to see across communications plans this year.
- TikTok continues to rise
According to this article by TechCrunch, TikTok is now the third-largest social media platform on the planet, behind only Facebook and Instagram. It will reportedly reach 755 million monthly users this year, after growing its userbase by 40.8% in 2021. As such, it seems almost inevitable that clients will have to adopt TikTok into their social plans. As the platform becomes more and more ubiquitous, any brand that wants to attract a younger audience will have to engage with TikTok and diversify their existing social media content to fit its video-based model.
- The Metaverse is coming…
Speaking of social media giants, Facebook hit headlines towards the end of 2021 by re-branding itself as Meta. With this came the announcement that the platform would seek to introduce virtual reality into businesses’ delivery of commerce and other services. The Metaverse is already, as The Drum puts it, “blurring the lines between creator and consumer”. Communications firms will thus be essential to delivering clear, concise messaging for clients to their already confused consumers about just what the Metaverse is and why their favourite brand is suggesting they put on a VR headset to attend a virtual brand activation.
- Expect responses to the pandemic to continue in PR campaigns
Last year, several major organisations capitalised on the pandemic through their advertising and communications plans, such as Tesco, who won good will by suggesting that customers forgo their supermarket experience to support the struggling hospitality industry. As the Omicron variant diminished any notions of COVID-19 disappearing entirely from our lives, expect comms strategies that focus on individuals and industries affected by the pandemic to continue, especially in the charity sector.
- Responses to hybrid working will vary
Recruitment communications plans will also be impacted by the pandemic, but with a specific focus on remote working. Businesses still can’t agree on whether they think flexible working is a good thing or not, with some in favour of an office-less model and others vehemently against working from home. You can therefore expect any recruitment comms to address this hybridised elephant in the room whenever a job is advertised. Watch this space for an update on Orchard’s new hybrid working plans – we’ve learnt lots from the last two years, and have a new model which is radically different to how we operated as an agency pre- pandemic!
- Consumers and customers continue to become more savvy
Social media usage continues to make us more connected than ever. When paired with lockdowns that have given us nothing but time to scrutinise and discuss our favourite businesses, brand identity and trust have become precious commodities. Superficial campaigns and a once-a-year post in support of a social movement no longer sit well with a more educated public. Don’t Cry Wolf’s John Brown summed this up succinctly at the PRCA PR Trends webinar: ‘claims without evidence will be dismissed without evidence’. Communications specialists therefore must be more engaged, more creative, and more passionate about crafting genuinely compelling campaigns than ever before. And that’s a really good thing.
- Measurement isn’t just about client impact
Two things’ PRs are very familiar with 1. demonstrating impact with transparent reporting, 2. The importance of proof points and a narrative on ESG. 2022 will push agencies and comms teams to bring these two worlds together, putting high up on the agenda taking a close look at their own footprint as an organisation AND specifically thinking about a very different kind of ‘impact’ when delivering a campaign.