The public relations industry is changing at a dizzying pace. Now more than ever, conventional PR wisdom is being called into question. In its place, new approaches are blossoming, we are dealing with a global economic downturn, and PR professionals are thinking more outside the box. With so much growth and change, it seems impossible to predict developments a month from now, much less in 2023. But some overarching trends have already emerged, with ripple effects bound to extend beyond this year. With an eye to 2023, here are my thoughts on four key trends we’ll end up seeing:
1. More publications turning to a paid contributors model
In 2016, Forbes, in partnership with the Young Entrepreneur Council, introduced an invitation-only community called Forbes Councils. The new organization marked a shift to a paid model for CEOs and entrepreneurs looking to amplify their voices. Executives can apply to access a high-quality network of peers, publish content on Forbes.com, and receive actionable advice to push their thought leadership forward.
Since then, other publications like Fast Company and Entrepreneur have pivoted to similar models. We’ve already had some clients at my own agency, Jmac PR, looking into setting up profiles with these programs. And it makes sense: by and large, a paid contributors model offers real benefits for executives looking to showcase their industry expertise. These days it’s not enough for executives to stay on top of issues and trends in their industries. They need to show they have their finger on the pulse by practicing executive visibility. And these emerging programs present a great opportunity for executives to do just that.
Not every publication will make this shift. But in light of the increasing importance of thought leadership and economic headwinds, the switch to a paid contributors model is a trend that will grow more prominent in the new year.
2. More specialized platforms for PR professionals
Within the past few years, two online services have changed the PR landscape: HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and Qwoted. Both offer a ton of value to journalists and PR professionals alike. Journalists can connect with experts, guests, and story ideas relevant to specific areas in their reporting, while PRs can browse a huge network of journalists and find targeted, high-impact media placements for clients. Additionally, a number of contributors at publications have let my team know what stories they have coming up so we can then let our clients know. A podcast host also introduced themselves to us, and said they were creating another platform that would compete against HARO and Qwoted.
In 2023, we’ll start to see more specialized platforms competing with these two heavyweights. PR professionals are always on the lookout for ways to uncover up-and-coming writers, columns, and publications, so they can better spread the word about their clients—and new services are bound to crop up to meet that demand. This will come as part of a large shift toward increased efficiency and automation in the world of PR. Old ways of doing business will continue to fall by the wayside, as more streamlined methods emerge to take their place.
3. More pitching to podcasters and YouTubers
Demand for video and audio content is only growing across industries. From 2021 to 2020 alone, podcast listenership rose by 17 percent. In 2023, PR professionals will take note—and podcasters and YouTubers will start seeing a lot more pitches in their inboxes. But the implications extend further than just more pitches. In the new year, PR teams will start to have dedicated team members focused on these emerging channels. As agencies adapt to the proliferation of digital content, in-house podcasting teams will become more common, and more executives will seek out guest spots on podcasts with authoritative content in their industry.
By the same token, agencies will start to lean more heavily into social media and video channels: 54 percent of consumers want to see more video content from brands they support, which makes sense. Video is a great medium for showcasing products and services—and more importantly, for telling stories. We’ll only see more of it in 2023.
4. Greater demand for small agencies (and more PR professionals starting them)
As we move through a global economic downturn, companies have started to keep a closer eye on their costs, including their PR efforts. A large agency is usually expensive, and the bigger price tag doesn’t necessarily mean better service compared to a smaller, more nimble and proactive one. In 2023, more and more companies will seek out PR services from small boutique agencies. They’ll realize they can receive best-in-class service for far less than what an industry powerhouse would charge.
We’ll see this shift play out in the context of the ongoing Great Resignation. Many PR professionals will leave longstanding roles for opportunities at new agencies. Others will pursue freelance work and join an agency team later. Concurrently, we’ll start to see a lot of PR professionals branching out to start their own agencies, and capitalizing on the influx of freelance talent to build them up. The end result of all these shakeups? A commitment to better PR services across the board.