In this piece we will talk about the key trends for in-house PR teams in 2023, reveal the questions that you need to answer and give you a checklist you should consider when planning your 2023 PR strategy.
It's that time of the year when public relations professionals and in-house communications teams decide on what they want to achieve in the year ahead. In this post, we'll talk about the key things to consider when you're planning a 2023 strategy for your in house PR team. Over the last 15 years, MediaHQ has worked closely with hundreds of in-house PR and communications teams all over the world. We have helped them with their media relations in building lists and sharing press releases. Through this work, we've gained the knowledge and understanding of what makes an effective in-house PR team and we want to share with you the lessons that we've learned and some tips for setting your strategy for 2023.
Five Key Trends for In-House Teams in 2023.
1. Budgets will be tighter
The world has been in a period of uncertainty from the end of the first quarter of 2022 and this looks set to continue into 2023. Therefore, getting better value from your spend will be one of the key trends for next year. This will affect you setting your strategy, as you will need to make sure that the budget you are allocated for next year is adequate to achieve your goals and objectives. You will have to take inflation into account because even if you are allocated the same budget figure as last year, you will have to do more with less due to the rising cost of supply chains. It's important to think through the implications of this now to make sure that you set yourself a budget that will meet your needs for next year.
2. Moving away from traditional PR towards audiences
In MediaHQ our job is to connect in-house PR teams and agencies with their audiences. When we started out we were solely focused on media contacts. In the last number of years we have moved away from media contacts towards audiences. Audiences describe any group of people that you need to connect your story with. Nowadays, the nature and definition of your audience should be much broader than just media contacts. It should include social media, online media, podcasts and even influencers. You should be connecting with anyone that might be receptive to your story - regardless of what medium they are using. In 2023, the media imperative is going to further move away from traditional media towards audiences.
3. More pressure on traditional media
Due to the economic climate that we’ve outlined already, state funded broadcasters and traditional print media will continue to be under pressure. Over recent months, we have seen closures of newspapers in markets all around the world - and this is likely to continue. In Ireland’s most recent budget, the Government decided to completely scrap the VAT rate that applied to newspapers due to the ‘critical role’ of the free press in Ireland. However commentary since then has said that this measure is merely a stay of execution that will last about 12 months. Therefore, we are likely to see more traditional media fail in 2023, and it's important for PR people to understand this when they are communicating.
4. Continued blurring of the lines between marketing, advertising and communications
We now live in a post social media age. Facebook was launched in 2004, and we have now gone through a number of different waves of social media. There are platforms like Bebo and Vine that came and went, but there are also the giants like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram who have managed to stick around long term. TikTok is now the hottest property on the market and it was only launched in 2016. In this environment, marketing, communications, public relations and digital advertising are starting to blend into a single skill set. Many modern university courses provide students with a broad understanding of all of these concepts, and technology has made content creation easier than ever. In-house teams can capitalise on this trend by hiring more native talent rather than outsourcing it to expensive agencies or freelancers. To succeed, you need people who can write well, people who can research well, people who can build relationships and people who aren't afraid to try new things. When you have these people in-house, they will deliver quicker results and better value for money.
5. Finding efficiencies will be crucial
When you look at the economic climate and how media and communications are becoming more streamlined, efficiencies in how you can get more from your current team could be the difference between success and failure. In MediaHQ, we drive efficiencies through a piece of software that removes all the grunt work from media list creation and management. The trend towards efficiencies will mean that the PR people who invest in better technologies and training will get more from smaller budgets in 2023.
Questions that you need to answer
The most important thing when you're setting a strategy for the year ahead is to know exactly what you're trying to achieve. One of the greatest pitfalls in public relations is that people set out to generally raise awareness or get media coverage, but there's no greater purpose on the table to achieve. Great PR people know exactly what that dial looks like, and where they need to move the needle on it. It's really important to plug your communications function into the big things that your organisation is trying to achieve. This might be generating more sales, raising more money, raising awareness or getting more people to attend an event. In order to achieve this, representatives of the in-house team must have a seat at the senior management table and be aware of the strategic direction of the company. Think to yourself, what does the organisation need to achieve next year? Is it measurable? Does the communications function reflect that and is it able to deliver the main objectives? If you don't know what these things are and if the communications function isn't represented at a senior level, there will be a gap and your communications won't function as effectively as it should be.
Budget - how much do you have to spend on your in-house team?
After you have decided on your objectives, you need to figure out how much it will cost to achieve them. It’s important that you create a detailed plan for the coming year and make sure you are allocated enough money to finance it. Tools like MediaHQ make it easy to look back on campaigns from the previous calendar year, hence providing the bones of what you need to budget for. The three key areas you need to budget for in 2023 are people, training and technology.
The largest part of your budget will be the people that you have employed on your team. Some questions to consider:
Do you have enough people on your team?
Do you have the right mix of people?
Is your team affordable or is it too expensive?
Do you need to freshen it up throughout the year?
The money that is spent on wages is the biggest spend for public relations people. Having the right mix of people that can deliver a good service in an efficient manner will maximise the value from this spend. Common pitfalls occur when you don’t have someone on the team who’s a good writer, presenter or experienced in media relations. Sometimes it can be hard to attract the right talent, which is why it is crucial to build good relationships with universities and professional bodies in your industry and areas of interest.
Tools and technologies
Tools and technologies are another area that you should budget significantly for in 2023 as they allow you to get more from your team. At the most basic level, your team should at least be equipped with modern computer systems and monitors - and no, Windows XP is not included in that category. In the hybrid working world, you must ensure that your team is equipped with headphones, keyboards, mouses, laptop risers and appropriate software. Software is crucial nowadays as it allows in-house teams to drive efficiencies in the way they work, and collaborate while working remotely. If one in-house team is equipped with software that cuts hours of administrative work out of their week, they are guaranteed to succeed more than a competing in-house team using older technology. On a daily basis in MediaHQ, our software does the gardening work for hundreds of in-house PR teams. We often say that the value of MediaHQ is the equivalent to one full time extra team member because it takes care of all the research work and the efficiencies around managing media lists and sending press releases. There are also platforms that simplify processes like media monitoring, hiring, budgeting, project management and many more tasks that require administrative work. If you invest in these tools, they will make your team much more efficient.
Training is a very broad term and it can be hard to know what is meant when somebody recommends more training. The starting point is to identify the skills gap in your current team, and think about the type of skills that you would like to have on your team for the upcoming year. Many times when there is a lack of skills on a team, managers will outsource work to external agencies or freelancers. The problem with that is you lose control over the work that’s being done, it slows down your processes and you pay more than what you’re getting. If these problems sound familiar, you might want to consider investing in training and bringing these skills in-house. For PR teams, you need people who have an in-depth knowledge of the media landscape, can write, present and take interviews efficiently, and can build strong relationships with key journalists in your field.
A checklist for next year
1. Do you know the key trends for 2023?
It’s a bit like the Titanic sailing out into the ocean. If you’re not aware of the trends, you might find yourself heading straight for an iceberg.
2. Do you know what you want to achieve?
A great PR team knows exactly what they want to achieve for the upcoming year and how that ties into your organisation’s overall goals and objectives.
3. Do you have the right people?
Do you have the talent at your disposal to achieve the strategy that you set out, and are there any skill gaps?
4. Do you have the right tools and technologies?
You need to ensure your team is equipped with modern technology that drives efficiencies and enables hybrid working. If you don’t do this, it is only a matter of time before your competitors start to take over.
5. Do you have enough budget to achieve your objectives?
With inflation on the rise, the budget that you were allocated last year is worth less than what it’s worth today. That is why you must fight your corner and ensure you are allocated enough budget to achieve your objectives.
Designed for PR and Communications teams, MediaHQ is the all-in-one media contacts database and press release distribution software with the mission to connect your story with your audience.
It was founded by entrepreneur Jack Murray in 2009. Our cutting-edge software is the best, fastest and most accurate way to find the right journalists, build media and pitch lists in seconds, send press releases and get results.
The comprehensive MediaHQ database lists the details of over 60,000 journalists and media outlets across Ireland and the UK and is full of time-saving features.