Nitin Mantri on 4 PR Trends of 2022 - OG Image

4 Trends Defining the Future of PR in 2022

The past two years have been nerve-racking, to say the least. While COVID-19 has upended how we work and live, we have managed to adapt to new norms such as remote working and an increased pace of digitalization.

All of this has been necessary, but it will not be enough for brands attempting to navigate this volatile landscape. As COVID-19 variants bring new uncertainties, the road ahead calls for more inclusive policies, a deeper commitment to sustainability, an increasingly data-driven approach to campaigns and an urgent need for empathetic leadership.

Putting People First

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is the importance of human vulnerability and the need to invest more in the human aspects of work.

According to our latest Brands in Motion report, "The Bravery Mandate", employee well-being is the most important issue that needs to be addressed by employers. With 75% of employees in the United States and nearly a third in the Asia-Pacific region experiencing burnout, it is no wonder that people are turning away from employers that don’t care.

Employees are tired. They demand more autonomy and flexibility at work. Some want a renewed sense of purpose, and many crave interpersonal connections with their colleagues. In short, they want to feel valued by their organizations.

Unless we champion the welfare of our workforce and appreciate the value of their contribution, we stand to lose what lies at the very heart of our work — our people.

Doubling Down on ESG Goals

At the same time, businesses must act to ensure that environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals are more than just a buzzword.

"The Bravery Mandate" found that 71% of respondents felt that brands had an obligation to engage with global issues such as climate change. In fact, an increasing number of consumers expect socially responsible and sustainable practices across industries and business sectors.

Brands that ‘walk the talk’ have an opportunity to showcase their authenticity and impact. For example, Avian WE partnered with Reckitt to amplify its public health and hygiene initiatives across India, which resulted in 4.5 million school kids in six states reached by Dettol. This led to a 10% reduction in instances of diarrhea, improving the lives of underserved communities in the process.

Accelerating with Data

Communications has always been about keeping a finger on the pulse of consumers, events and trends to build compelling narratives.

Inevitably, this means that we have a large amount of data — and analytics can help make sense of all this information. We can now glean important insights on key performance indicators such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), media reach, earned media and audience behavior to help evaluate outcomes and inform future efforts.

In doing so, we can create hyper-personalized messaging to drive more effective business outcomes in less time. Haptik, a startup focused on artificial intelligence (AI), partnered with the Government of India to release a WhatsApp chatbot — in just five days — that is capable of answering questions on the coronavirus. The use of conversational AI allowed the government to handle millions of diverse queries and provide customised replies 24/7 while in the process eradicating rampant misinformation and empowering over 25 million citizens. The tool has now been adopted as the nation’s official COVID-19 helpline.

Leading With Empathy

The pandemic has ushered in a new leadership paradigm. Post-pandemic leaders are no longer superhumans that plough through problems with unflinching perfection. They are real and vulnerable and lead with the heart.

These leaders will always be available to engage with their employees and communicate with honesty and transparency. They will not shy away from difficult conversations. They will not be afraid to falter and will be quick to own up when they do.

Most importantly, they will lead — both their people and their clients — by example. Future CEOs will recognize the importance of being actively involved in initiating and maintaining relationships with diverse groups, both inside and outside of the organization, to foster positive change. 

The Next Normal

The global pandemic has both revealed and accelerated several trends that will play significant roles in the years to come.

As we greet the "next normal", 2022 is the year to act on all the lessons we have learned thus far, adopting them as our compass while we continue to navigate the flux that is — increasingly — defining the future.