Author: Katie Mallinson, founder and MD at Scriba

There’s headline after headline, predicting and tracking the impact of the economic climate, on marketing spend. You don’t have to work in comms to know many budgets will be affected. But this is just one of the reasons PR will be turned on its head in 2023.

Because - and here’s the crux of it - PR does not stand for ‘press release’. It also - and this is where our industry’s own professionals trip up too - doesn’t even mean media relations. PR isn’t just about achieving column inches, interviews, or article clicks. And as we all ready ourselves for whatever challenges or opportunities lie in the year ahead - and beyond - we need to remember this.

PR is about engaging with your public - the target audience (and other stakeholders) who you need to inform, interact with, and to a large degree, influence, to thrive.

It is this practice of shaping what others know about you, and how they feel towards you, which builds their entire perception of your corporate or personal brand - and ultimately, if they want to be associated or do business with you.

Of course journalists play a significant part in facilitating this external exposure (or not!) So naturally media relations - including but definitely not limited to press releases - comes into play.

But what about the explosion of social media and user-generated content, the continued evolution of the events scene, the ongoing hunt for knowledge and empowerment via readily-available but trusted resources, the mounting reliance on review sites and ‘best of’ rankings, the hunger for personalised content, society’s ever-changing behaviour and the repercussions on digital marketing trends..? The list doesn’t stop there, but the point is hopefully clear. The world of communicating between a brand and the ‘public’ - however that public might be defined - has changed beyond recognition, and continues to do so.

How many people hit Google and trust the information they find? A lot. How many people will decide whether or not to purchase from a brand, based on what Deidre says on TrustPilot, or work with a brand based on what Solomon says on Glassdoor? A lot. How much does social media conversation - the good, the bad and the ugly - skew someone’s feelings towards a business? A lot.

The voice and perception of organisations large and small, from a multinational to hyper-local level, can and is shaped on an ongoing basis. Some stunts go viral, some brands work for years evidencing and reinforcing the integrity of their values. Whichever way you look at it, there are more channels than ever at a company’s disposal, when it comes to ‘PR’.

Dismissing this - whatever the economic climate - is risky. So is the misconception that PR is all about media coverage with hopefully a few links thrown in for SEO good measure.

Because PR is more than this.

When we refreshed the Scriba brand back in the spring, some people asked if we’d drop PR from the name. But this is the primary reason why we didn’t. Because we’ve never ‘just done media relations’. And we won’t ever do this in future either.

Don’t get me wrong, we know what we’re good at - words. And using those words to tell stories that help achieve everything a strong PR strategy should. This doesn’t always require a big budget either - especially if the client already has some existing comms resource and/or is focused with their activity.

But even if we devise and deploy a comprehensive, multichannel plan, there are ways to ensure it pays for itself. An investment in PR then becomes seen as just that - an investment, not a marketing expense.

It comes back to objectives really. What does public relations need to achieve for you?

Whether you work with an agency or look after PR in-house, 2023 will be as critical a year as any to make sure you think about your public, how you communicate with them, and why.

For some organisations, this could mean a massive step-change. But just think how exciting that could be…