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Four Trends You Need To Consider For Your Business' Strategic Communications In 2023 From the rise of social media, to the increasing importance of brand authenticity, businesses need to embrace a strong foundation that is centered around transparency, authenticity, and new technologies.

By Anastasiya Golovatenko

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In the fast-paced world of business, staying ahead of the curve is crucial for success. As businesses continue to navigate an increasingly complex and rapidly changing landscape, the ability to effectively communicate with all stakeholders has become more important than ever. In 2023, companies of all sizes are expected to place a greater emphasis on strategic communications as a key component of their overall strategy.

From the rise of social media, to the increasing importance of brand authenticity, businesses need to embrace a strong foundation that is centered around transparency, authenticity, and new technologies. Here are some trends that we see on the horizon that Middle Eastern brands should take into consideration:

Trend #1: Online brand discovery is no longer an option

Businesses of all sizes need to have a strong online presence to be successful. In the past, online brand discovery may have been considered an option for brands. Today, in the UAE alone, residents spend 8.36 hours online every day, nearly two hours more than the global average of 6.58 hours, as reported by the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority.

The reality is that more and more people are turning to the internet to research products and services, and if you or your brand are not present there, you can safely assume that your business doesn't exist to them. Research by BrightEdge discovered that 68% of user experiences online begin with a search engine. This means that if businesses are not easily discoverable online, there is an increased chance that they are missing out on a significant number of potential customers, as well as revenue.

Another important aspect to focus on is a quality presence of your brand online. Have you ever googled yourself or your business? Very often, what people think about themselves and their businesses are not reflected online, and so, your brand image and reputation are not so strong as you may think. Business-to-business (B2B) brands, particularly those in industries such as construction, logistics, warehousing, and facilities management have traditionally relied on offline ways of promotion of their products or services. As a result, they may not have fully embraced the full range of marketing and public relations tools available. But in this rapidly changing digital landscape, this approach needs to be re-evaluated, with more attention to be paid to brand awareness and executive positioning, as even their audience is moving online.

Trend #2: Public relations (PR) and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies need to be integrated

PR and SEO are two powerful marketing disciplines that, when integrated, can amplify a brand's visibility and reputation in the online space. By combining the efforts of these two strategies, businesses can create a holistic approach to online presence and reputation management, leading to an increase in targeted traffic, conversions, and overall business growth.

One of the most effective ways to facilitate brand discovery is through SEO. By optimizing websites and online content for relevant keywords, brands can increase their chances of being found when consumers are searching for products or services related to their industry.

One of the ways that chief marketing officers can merge their communications and SEO budgets is by creating search-optimized content that supports both strategies. This includes incorporating relevant keywords and phrases into press releases and other PR materials, in addition to incorporating keywords and phrases into website content and social media.

Research has shown that 68% of user experiences begin on a search engine, which makes it important for PR and SEO strategies to work together to improve online rankings. By creating quality, search-optimized content, building backlinks, and utilizing social media, businesses can increase brand visibility, establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry, and drive targeted traffic to their website.

Related: Three Tactics That Can Help Entrepreneurs Get On The Fast-Track To Success

Trend #3: Building a solid reputation based on trust and authenticity

A business with a strong brand image is seen as more trustworthy and more likely to be selected over competitors. A strong brand can also attract top talent, as people are more likely to work for a business with a reputable and well-known name on the market.

A good reputation can also be a key factor in creating long-term relationships with customers, partners, and vendors. A study from Michael Luca at Harvard showed that for every increase of one star in a rating on Yelp, a business will see a 5-9% jump in revenue.

Senior executives within such organizations should also be visible to their target audience, and they should work on their individual positioning. At the end, people love to connect with people. Twitter and LinkedIn are still the most popular platforms for B2B- placement of articles or regular posts across such platforms can help an executive showcase his/her expertise and business acumen. According to KRC Research, strong CEO reputation helps attract investors (85%), generates positive media attention (83%), and attracts new employees (77%).

Trend #4: Data and analytics takes centerstage

With the rise of big data and the increasing availability of powerful analytical tools, brands and PR professionals are now able to gain a deeper understanding of their audience and the effectiveness of their campaigns. According to research by McKinsey, data-driven companies are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, six times as likely to retain them, and 19 times as likely to be profitable as a result. The research also found that data-driven companies are also more likely to be innovation leaders in their market.

Data and analytics can play a key role in the planning and execution of PR strategies by helping businesses understand their target audience, and identifying topics of interest for a powerful content marketing push. By collecting and analyzing data on media consumption habits, social media engagement, and website traffic, brands can tailor their PR efforts accordingly.

By embracing strategic communications, businesses can position themselves to effectively navigate the challenges and opportunities of the coming year and beyond. This can lead to better business outcomes, stronger relationships with stakeholders, and a more resilient business overall.

Related: An Investor's Viewpoint: Here's What Entrepreneurs Should Look Out For In 2023

Anastasiya Golovatenko

PR Director, Sherpa Communications

Anastasiya Golovatenko is an accomplished PR professional and business advisor who leads a Dubai-based communications consultancy Sherpa Communications. With more than 12 years of expertise developing and executing all aspects of public relations and marketing campaigns, she provides senior counsel to brands of any size and structure, helping them achieve business objectives and meaningful results through the strategic use of communication.

She has experience across various sectors -from B2B to B2C industries, and has worked with MENA, international and CIS clients, diplomatic bodies, trade institutions, government institutions, and NGOs- supporting them both in-house and on the agency side. Anastasiya and her colleagues also actively support a rising number of startups and SMEs in the UAE and Middle East region providing advice on best practices and tactics for effective scaling up and business growth. She prides herself on establishing a personal connection with agency’s clients to best match their specific needs.

A passionate public relations practitioner, Anastasiya is actively involved in community groups in the UAE helping individuals and businesses master PR tools for their projects. She is also involved in mentorship programs by in5 in Dubai, UAE. She writes for the UAE and international media on important industry topics sharing tips and advice on effective communication, reputation management, savvy marketing planning amongst others. Anastasiya graduated with honors from Kiev Institute of International Relations, where she earned Master Degree in Public Relations & Analytics (Hons.). 

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