Senior Director of PR & Operations at ChicExecs PR & Retail Strategy Firm.
It’s almost 2022 already? Where did the time go?
Quarter four snuck up on us this year, but that means it’s time for your brand to start planning your PR strategies for 2022. Nearly every industry has been in flux since 2020, and 2022 may be yet another year of upheaval and change.
But that doesn’t mean your business can’t succeed in the new year. Trends change from year to year, and the better positioned you are to take advantage of these trends, the better your business could perform.
So, what’s on the horizon for PR? Follow these four steps to craft an effective PR strategy for 2022.
1. Create Personalized Pitches
Here’s the good news: According to Muck Rack’s 2021 State of PR report — which surveyed 1,618 comms professionals — 96% of PR professionals still say that individual emails are the best way to pitch journalists. The bad news is that, in my experience, journalists are sick of receiving generic email blasts.
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If you want a journalist to actually read your email, you should create hyper-personalized messages that compel them to respond. Don’t send one more generic email. Follow these quick tips to personalize your pitches in 2022:
• Read the journalist’s previous pieces.
• Pitch something that’s actually newsworthy for the journalist’s beat, as I wrote about previously.
• Grab their attention with an engaging subject line. (Read more of my advice on this here.)
Sure, personalized pitches are more work, but they don’t have to be a pain. Track your pitches in a shared spreadsheet and assign your team members to specific journalists. This will make it easier to do deeper research on each journalist and personalize your outreach efforts (without driving your PR team crazy).
2. Marry Affiliate Marketing With PR
Affiliate marketing is helpful if you sell products. With affiliate programs, you pay influencers, editors and publishers a commission in exchange for bringing you more sales.
Instead of keeping your affiliate relationships and PR efforts separate, I recommend combining the two in 2022. In my experience, PR can help you build relationships with new, bigger affiliates while maintaining relationships with your existing publishers. Since affiliate marketing is all about relationships, you’ll have a better chance of bringing in more affiliate sales if you create a thoughtful affiliate outreach strategy.
Plus, an affiliate relationship is a great way to score earned media. An outlet will already know your brand and be familiar with it, which can significantly increase your chances of scoring an earned feature.
3. Remember That Planning Is Out And Flexibility Is In
PR professionals once had the luxury of creating an annual content calendar, but after 2020, that’s a no-go for many brands. With the news cycle changing on a daily basis — and a new crisis happening seemingly every week — you shouldn’t over-plan your PR for 2022.
Your PR team should take a page from the IT industry and become more agile. In unpredictable times, you might have to:
• Change product release dates.
• Pause releases entirely.
• Send emergency press releases overnight.
To go with the flow, you should set up your PR systems to move faster. That might mean:
• Following Agile principles: Have you tried working in an Agile environment before? It’s definitely different, but it’s great for planning PR initiatives that work with the changing news cycle. You can plan in advance for some of your PR initiatives, but Agile allows you to change them at a moment’s notice without completely ruining your team’s productivity.
• Creating a Kanban board: Use a digital Kanban board. This strategy helps your team rearrange projects as needed, check up on their status and move more quickly.
• Having contractors on standby: It doesn’t make sense to hire dozens of full-time employees if you only need occasional extra help. Instead, have a list of go-to vendors or contractors to help you with content, pitching, graphics and more. This is one of the easiest ways to conserve your budget while tackling the unpredictability of 2022.
4. Build Deeper Media Relationships
It’s fine if you want to send an occasional pitch to a journalist, but in 2022, you need every advantage you can get. Use a social listening app to look for journalists who need a quick turnaround on expert quotes.
Whether you do so on Twitter, LinkedIn or Help A Reporter Out, you can start relationships with dozens of journalists with little effort. And it never hurts to start a relationship with an “IOU” — you never know when it might come in handy.
Are you unsure about how to keep all of your media contacts straight? You can always log your interactions with each journalist in a CRM so you can create more relationships at scale.
The Bottom Line
Change is the name of the game for brands in 2022. I believe deeper relationships, personalized experiences and flexibility are all going to be key going forward. We can’t know for sure what 2022 will bring for brands, but following these four steps can help you set your brand up for success in the new year.