Though it may seem unfathomable, we’re in the last quarter of 2021. For most of us, 2020 and 2021 have been a rollercoaster of change as we’ve navigated a pandemic, shifted our practices, and adjusted to so many ‘new normals,’ we’ve lost count. With a new year on the horizon, though, pitching trends will change yet again, as publicists are constantly tasked with staying current on the most effective measures to grab media attention. As we inch closer to 2022, it’s essential to begin thinking about your own goals and approaches and how you may need to update your PR strategies. Here, professionals share insight on the pitching trends they think will take center stage in 2022:
Pitching will be more trend-focused.
Pitching trends change every year, according to Zoe Weisberg Coady, the founder of Brandstyle Communications, ‘trend’ is the keyword of 2022. How so? Fewer journalists are interested in ‘news’ or ‘announcements’ and instead gravitate toward trend pieces that help them make a pitch. “Publicists seem always to ask their clients; ‘what’s new’ when they should really be engaging their clients in a larger discussion leading to ideas that go beyond the actual news,” she continues. “While news can usually be made newsworthy, it’s focusing on details around the news that will be critical.”
As Coady reminds, it’s then the publicists’ job to identify what’s most exciting and relevant in these conversations—finding and prioritizing the story—and draft a pitch around that.
Pitches will be micro in size.
If you’re still writing two-page press releases and emails that take forever to get through, here’s your cue to cut it out. One of the biggest pitching trends for 2022 is a turn toward bite-sized and micro pitches, Coady says. “With seemingly more emails and content to filter through than ever, we predict the ‘micro-pitch’ will win the story,” she says. “Interesting, relevant, and, of course, concise, will be the key ingredients to a pitch that actually gets read and responded to.”
Publicists will begin to work together.
Pitching trends in 2022 aren’t just about how to approach media, but how publicists and brands can all work together in a cohesive, helpful way, says Kiana Montgomery, the head publicist and owner of Ki Takeaways. As she explains, historically, PR has been an industry of ‘my’: ‘my media-friendly,’ ‘my coverage,’ and ‘my media list.’
“In 2022, publicists and communications practitioners will have to work together to share expertise so that we all win,” she continues. “The number of hours spent researching, vetting, and pitching will be cut in half because of open lines of communication. Publicists will raise their hands when they require a resource and when they can be a resource. Publicists working together will benefit us all.”
Publicists will need to encourage affiliates more than ever.
Though it’s never easy to ask a client to give away a percentage of their sales, affiliate marketing is now becoming the standard, not the exception. “Where it was once considered a nice bonus in a pitch to announce that your client is set up with an affiliate program like Skimlinks or Amazon, in 2022 you can expect even more top-tier outlets to require such affiliation for consideration of coverage,” says Jason Myers, a senior account executive at The Content Factory.
Explaining to brands what they stand to gain from working with affiliate networks can help convince them that it’s time to make the leap.
Diversity will be a significant focus.
The same forces changing companies' makeup are changing the way we pitch, Kate Gardiner, the CEO and founder of Grey Horse, says. What does she mean? Journalists want to quote and feature a variety of sources and products, and it’s becoming a growing requirement from editors and publications across the board.
“Publicists should respond by encouraging their clients to identify and train spokespeople who aren’t cis white men,” she says. “Not only is it a moral imperative that people of all backgrounds receive the advantages that come with media training and public-facing opportunities, but there are a growing number of interview opportunities specifically for women and people of color.”
AI will make PR more quantifiable.
It’s time to gear up for an uptick in artificial intelligence developments, says Cassandra Rosen, the president of FK Interactive, a PR content strategy firm for brands and agencies. “As social listening and monitoring tools are becoming more cost-effective and readily available, it will be easier for public relations firms to identify the best influencers and media to pitch with their stories,” she says. “AI also allows data to be processed at light speed, allowing PR and brands to see real-time results—or failures—from coverage and online conversations.”
In fact, she predicts new AI solutions also may show more profound impact, showing analytics on not just earned media but also within social media channels, newsletters, forums, and more.
Authenticity will matter more than ever.
Over the past two years, we have all been challenged to dig deeper within ourselves and to challenge our ways of thinking and working. Change has been the only constant, and what’s mattered the most are the relationships we’ve fostered during the turbulence. That’s why authenticity will reign supreme in 2022, according to Delores Lightbourne, the founder of Delores Communications.
“Long gone are the days where fluffed releases, pitches, and celebrity-studded campaigns gain media attention and produce quality coverage,” she says. “With the significant increase in entrepreneurship, COVID-19, and everything else happening in the world, consumers are in search of authentic brands. Brands that really ‘get it.’”
In turn, Lightbourne says journalists are searching for authentic stories to share with their audiences, which means working with brands for a high retainer can no longer drive publicists. Instead, PR strategies should reflect those with a moral compass and positive social impact.
Pitching will become more streamlined.
We may be a little biased, since Press Hook is all about creating a streamlined experience, but in 2022, organization will become more critical than ever. PR strategies will require publicists to become innovative and even more hands-on, Montgomery says. “More writers will offer newsletters highlighting their story topics, how they desire to be pitched, and what's essential to their work. The days of blasting emails and smiling and dialing are slowly but surely fading,” she says.
How do you think PR strategies and pitching trends will change in 2022? Let us know your predictions!