9 Public-Relations and Digital-Marketing Trends for 2022

The most effective ways to drive awareness, sales and results for your brand.

learn more about Elisette Carlson

By Elisette Carlson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I've been hearing frustrated entrepreneurs and freelance publicists lament for weeks: "Getting media exposure for my brands has been tough!" From the rise of influencers to the consolidation and collapse of media outlets, the past two years dramatically altered the public-relations and digital-marketing landscape, making earned media, even for the most seasoned marketing professionals, more challenging to secure.

While having established relationships with media and influencers, knowing how to write and pitch intelligently, and being authentic and accurate are still integral for generating brand awareness, there is an increased need for digital marketing and PR to connect to a brand's overall marketing plan.

Below are 9 PR and digital-marketing trends that you'll be seeing more of in 2022 and can yield greater ROI for brands and businesses.

1. Growth of affiliate marketing

If you are selling a product or service and are not on ShareASale, Skimlinks, Rakuten or something related, you should look into it. Most media outlets are in search of affiliate opportunities, and many require them, as they help drive revenue for the media outlets, influencers and retail partners.

2. Shorter pitches

Journalists, editors, influencers, podcasters (and yes, even us, as business owners and leaders) are inundated. Exhausted. There's so much noise around us, and we need to know how to break through it, bend a reporter's ear and stand out. Make pitches succinct. Lead with the perfect headline. Some journalists even appreciate short bullet points on the who, what, when, where and why. Why this is relevant to their readers tends to win. Intrigue a journalist or influencer, and he or she will usually request more info. Alternatively, you can hyperlink more info, but do not add copy to the body of the email.

3. The blurring of paid and earned media

Marketing and PR managers are now collaborating more with editors and influencers to help them promote exposure via social networks, digital ads and influencer marketing so that all parties can benefit. From using "swipe up" features on Instagram to creating educational video reels, digital tools for promoting brands and press exposure will be more prevalent. If everyone can win, and messaging and promotions can become more monetizable, the PR exposure is more likely to happen. While paid, earned and owned media are three different silos, they are now melting into the same pot.

Related: Are You Ready to Start With Paid Media? Here's What You Need to Know.

4. Does your pitch take inclusion, diversity and awareness into account?

Consider the gender, social, environmental, political and cultural sensitivities. Social consciousness is a big one here, as is an interest for brands that speak up and take a stand. This means you need to do your research, know your audience and be sensitive about how you pitch and build relationships with your media community.

5. Authentic influencer partnerships

Consumers purchase on trust, and strong influencer partnerships and campaigns can grow brand social proof, build engagement numbers and drive success by having a trusted person speak to his or her audience. A knowledge of TikTok and video-reel creation is also essential for most PR campaigns. Professor of marketing, speaker and author of The Influencer Code, Amanda Russell explains that "in order to understand influencer marketing, we must first understand influence. To do this we must shift thinking from influencer as a job title, to influence as an outcome." Russell continues, "The problem I see across businesses of all levels, is conflating content creators and anyone with a social media audience with the term "influencer.' Authentic partnerships start with identifying who AND what is really influencing your audience and working to build mutually beneficial relationships that go far beyond a transaction. In fact, the most powerful relationships often will not involve any monetary exchange."

6. Podcasts are more prevalent and proven to perform

I personally love health and wellness podcasts while on walks, commuting or doing chores, but everyone has his or her beat. More founders are being heard on podcasts, and it's proven to be an effective platform to "story-tell" because it offers audiences the opportunity to listen to more in-depth conversation about a brand and founder. Podcasts are also a vehicle for brands to hyper-target audiences given that 80% of podcast listeners listen to all or most of an episode from their preferred shows. With over 2,000,000 podcasts out there, and 75% of the U.S. familiar with the term "podcasting," it's no surprise that advertising spend for them is on the rise.

Related: Listen Up! 4 Reasons Why Podcasts Are One of the Best Life Hacks Around

7. Media outlets will be looking for more "contributed" articles

Just ensure you aren't writing a TV commercial about your brand. Newsrooms are shrinking, but most good editorial heads appreciate strong contributed content — Entrepreneur being a key example. Research what the outlet covers, collect data on the stories you are trying to tell and look to engage, entertain and educate. For example, if you're going to write about how TikTok is going to dominate in PR and digital marketing for 2022, explain and show proof for how out of the 4.48 billion people using social media globally (up from 2.07 billion in 2015), TikTok's on track to reach 755 million monthly users in 2022. The article could also outline specific social-media stats across all platforms. Vague writing won't get you far, but specificity and direct examples will.

8. PR pros will develop tighter relationships and pitch across broader networks and digital platforms such as private FB groups, Slack, Twitter, IG messaging and Linkedin

Cision, HARO emails and Muckrack are three terrific platforms for journalists and PR pros, but the means to connect will expand to more personal and efficient outreach across smaller pods of media groups. For example, private FB groups, chatrooms, Clubhouse and journalist newsletters have become more effective platforms for reputable members of the media to connect with trusted publicists and influencers. Just ensure you know who likes to be communicated with by what means.

9. The mass email pitch and press release "blasts" will go six feet under

Mass pitching and mass releases have been dead (read: ineffective) for a few years now, but for 2022, these media blasts will be ignored. Journalists want personalization, exclusivity and PR pros that can be helpful for sources and experts, whether they are client-related or not. The hot trend for 2022 is decentralized PR, meaning that press releases go through many trusted platforms and sources. All this said, a press release is still a key tool to have and most effective when personalized and kept concise.

Related: How to Write a Winning PR Pitch

To succeed as best as possible with digital marketing and PR, remain authentic, be personal and work across multiple platforms to amplify your brand and message. Expand beyond "marketing lingo" and be transparent about messaging all while offering value to the media outlet. Nothing is one-size-fits all, and the more you can establish trust and offer value with media partners, the more they will be willing to work with you. Ultimately, we all want to enjoy our work and the people we surround ourselves with, all while having our stories told.

Elisette Carlson

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Executive Recruiter & Hyper Connector

Elisette Carlson is a Partner at Executive Search firm Boyden, where she puts ultimate value on personal relationships, teamwork and authenticity. She is also the Founder of SMACK! Media, a Marketing & Public Relation(ship)s® Agency that helps brands achieve relevance in the health & wellness space.

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