Devine + Partners team members discuss the key trends they’re watching most in the New Year.
New Faces in the Media Landscape Offer a Reminder
With 6ABC’s beloved Jim Gardner retiring on Dec. 21, after 46 years of service, one can’t help but think about how newsrooms are changing. For sure, the news will look and feel different without the legendary Gardner in 2023.
With staff turnover in the media industry (and other industries) happening for all kinds of reasons – like a retirement in Gardner’s case or all too often the desire for something new, financial reasons, lingering pandemic effects, etc. – it has become all the more imperative for PR professionals to continue surveying newsrooms and developing relationships with reporters and editors who come and go.
It’s a great idea, for example, to check your media list(s) and ensure they have the most up-to-date contacts. Read the news not just for the content, but also to see who’s writing the content. Do a Google search of that person to see what their interests are or the beat(s) they cover. Who knows – you might find that your client’s news or announcement is perfect to share with them?
In the meantime, we’ll miss you, Jim. Thank you for being a staple in the Philadelphia community and beyond.
Time To Get Ready for ChatGPT
I can’t remember a day when I opened up the New York Times and saw three opinion writers opining on the same topics. This happened last Saturday when three writers – Frank Bruni, Peter Coy and Farhod Majoo – all were extolling or lamenting the wonders of ChatGPT. But what is ChatGPT? Here’s how the Harvard Business Review described it: “Less than two weeks ago, OpenAI released ChatGPT, a powerful new chatbot that can communicate in plain English using an updated version of its AI system. While versions of GPT have been around for a while, this model has crossed a threshold: It’s genuinely useful for a wide range of tasks, from creating software to generating business ideas to writing a wedding toast.”
Given all this notoriety, I wanted to know more about ChatGPT’s and to examine its implications for journalists and communications professionals. Are we poised to be replaced by this intuitive and perhaps better writer? Or, is this a technology that we can use to our benefit? Time will tell but for me, I am going to look on the bright side and figure out how we can harness its benefits for the good of our clients in 2023.
Transform Your Videos to Feed the Algorithms
Just as PR pros should prioritize video content on their owned and shared channels as a storytelling tool, social media algorithms prioritize video content on users’ feeds.
As we recently discussed on our blog, content performance on your respective social media sites not only depends on how engaging your content is for your audience, but also how well you play into the platform’s algorithm.
Platforms like Instagram have been very vocal about their focus on short-form video content. Reels, Instagram’s TikTok-style videos, are now on every user’s feed, and suggested Reels are recommended to users as they scroll through stories. YouTube and Facebook have also rolled out their own TikTok-style videos that appear while users scroll.
This tells us that these videos will only continue to be pushed into the new year. So, how can we play into this trend to maximize engagement? One of the easiest ways to transform your existing videos to feed the algorithm is to edit footage for vertical viewing (1080×1920 pixels). For upcoming projects, make sure a part of your camera setup is a phone, secured vertically on a tripod. This way, you’ll have footage optimized for social media editing and viewing in your content bank.
Support Media with Tools Offering Accessibility and Convenience
There are many ways public relations professionals help support media professionals in the work they do, such as alerting them to news, sharing story ideas and assisting in organizing interviews with sources. Our team has many great memories coordinating media tours and deskside visits to bring story ideas and spokespeople to reporters and editors. More recently, we can add to these experiences virtual media tours and interviews conducted via Zoom. Using communications platforms to offer interviews virtually, we feel, has provided an added level of convenience and service for media, many of whom are facing more pressure to do their work with fewer resources. Virtual media tours and interviews via communications platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams can offer advantages such as greater accessibility, easier and faster scheduling, the opportunity to more readily gather several experts in one “room,” the ease of recording the interviews for the reporter, and others. It’s another tool we will continue to utilize in the coming year – and creatively adapt – to serve media in their jobs.
This Is the Age of the Influencer
Content creators, such as influencers and bloggers, continue to provide successful outlets for brands to share their messages and connect with target audiences. And there are no signs that this momentum will slow in 2023. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, the influencer marketing industry expanded to a whopping $16.4 billion industry in 2022, continuing its growth from $9.7 billion in 2020.
Now that users have become more familiar with influencers on their feeds, audiences can better point out the creators looking to make a quick buck from an ad sponsorship. When picking influencers for brand collaboration, selecting a few high-quality influencers that align with your brand’s mission and vision is critical.
In 2023, PR professionals should continue to take advantage of the opportunities influencers offer to connect brands to target audiences. However, they should be extra selective in choosing aligned content creators for their target audiences.
Serve Your Clients With a Focus on Service (Journalism)
When a story provides news consumers with “here’s what you can do” or “here are the actions you might consider taking” vs. a sole focus on the who, what, when, where and why of a situation, it’s service journalism. Maybe it’s a preview about an upcoming concert, and next to it is the “If you go” sidebar with ticket information, door opening times and tips for maximizing the experience. Or maybe it’s a guide to the best sites to purchase flights or car insurance or anything, really. For that matter, Consumer Reports could be considered the OG in service journalism.
The approach gained big-time traction during the pandemic with a slew of how-to stories on how to protect yourself and loved ones, what types of masks to buy, where to go for vaccines, how to gauge symptoms, and more. What strikes me about service journalism pieces is the way in which the information is presented – it’s snackable content served up with bullets, bold type, listicles, and lots of graphics. It’s a format that is easily – and often widely – shared, which makes it a mainstay of sites like Vox, Buzzfeed, Axios, and plenty of others.
But in addition to the valuable service this type of journalism provides, it’s a good approach to model for brands and organizations in the way they serve up content to their audiences, including the reporters they’re pitching for coverage. Here are some takeaways that are sure to have staying power through 2023:
- Make a list. Organize how-to content in a bulleted list. Bold the big idea. Both make your copy easy to read and share.
- Lead with what’s most important. Attention spans are decreasing. Get to the point right away.
- Use subheads. If you’re taking on different aspects of a story, divide it up with subheads that indicate what the reader will find there.
- Keep it tight. Short, consumable copy is better copy.
Prioritize Owned Media for Longer and Better Results
Over the past few years, we’ve seen an uptick in the importance of owned media. This is the content that you control – think your website, blog, social channels and newsletters. The shift towards prioritizing owned media comes after the pandemic highlighted the ways that earned and paid media are all too often at the mercy of others. With owned media, you’re in control of your own brand message and the content you want to emphasize.
Increasingly, consumers are craving organic and homegrown content from their brands. This is especially true of Gen Z, which is “arguably more likely to consume information on Instagram,” says Scott Henkemeyer, global head of content strategy and publishing for owned editorial channels at Spotify. Owned media also allows you to harness authentic interaction with your core audience. And this trend is mutually beneficial—as third-party privacy regulations surrounding data continue to grow, owned media allows access to organic first-party data that brands can use to determine where consumer priorities lie – and the content that they respond to with action. This starts with your website. According to a survey from Blue Fountain Media, 81% of consumers think less of a brand if its website is not updated. With an increased emphasis on the PR digital landscape, owned media is the best way to produce better content and remain independent from the uncertainty that comes along with other avenues.
Put These Media Startups (and More) in Your Contact List
Politics aside for a moment, one of the most intriguing things about the release of internal documents at Twitter by Elon Musk this month was not just what was reported on but rather who was doing the reporting: Substack stars Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss. Taibbi was once a mainstay at Rolling Stone. Weiss was at the New York Times before her well-publicized exit. Both have reinvented themselves and created lucrative media businesses going right to the public using the Substack platform. Weiss recently converted her “Common Sense” Subtack into a more traditional media site, “Free Press,” complete with a small, but star-studded staff, and 126,000 followers on Twitter in less than a month of operation. Another news site, “Semaphor,” launched recently with a roster of big names and is already breaking national stories.
There’s a lot happening on the local level, as well. In the past year or so, “Axios Philadelphia” and “Hey Philly” (and its companion City Cast podcast) are trying to fill the gaps in local news brought on by staff cutbacks in bigger newsrooms.
The crisis in journalism is far from over. Well over 1,000 news media jobs had been eliminated this year even before CNN, Gannett and the Washington Post announced recent layoffs. But the success of other media provides a glimmer of hope for those who care about a vibrant press – and are looking for new places to pitch stories.
Video Content: Same Story – Bigger Opportunities in 2023
Some trends never go out of style. If you look back at communications and content trends lists from the past decade, you’ll probably see some point highlighting that video content is going to grow in the new year. And guess what? I don’t think 2023 will be much different in that regard.
In the past few years, social media applications that emphasize and prioritize video have continued to rise – think TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Watch and obviously YouTube. But video growth isn’t just happening on social platforms. Videos are making their way into corporate and internal communications through tutorials, company briefings and even as a way to address scandals – looking at you Try Guys.
And there’s more of this to come in 2023. So how can you prepare for this especially if you don’t have resources to create new content? My suggestion: consider repurposing your written content into a video format. This gives you an opportunity to spread your content beyond one time use while bulking up your video content library, too. Also, if you haven’t already, consider working with a team like D+P that can help you create the video content your organization needs!