The news and public relations industries have faced many challenges this year including extended discussions around COVID-19, vaccination, and masking requirements; remote working; virtual events; shortage of labor; and the Great Resignation. As the world continues to navigate through these events, what will the media and media relations landscapes look like in 2022?

The Business Wire Global Media Relations Team shares eight trends predicted to make an impact in the New Year.

The Rise of Hybrid Events – Jeanne Prisyazhnaya, Media Relations Specialist, New York

More and more conferences, festivals, and conventions (such as CES, SXSW, and SPJ) plan to return in 2022 as hybrid events, attracting in-person and virtual attendees. Adopting a virtual experience has proven to be suitable for all involved. Attendees, panelists, and exhibitors can participate from all over the world and have flexibility – most sessions can be recorded in advance and shared later. With a virtual component, show organizers can reach a broader audience, and media professionals can interact and share news via tools like Zoom, WebEx, and Clubhouse, boosting engagement.

Virtual events also mean less travel and resources, minimizing the negative impact to the environment.

That said, after months of video calls, Zoom fatigue has set in, and with a growing vaccination rate, most media professionals are hopeful to attend live meetings again. By combining event formats (live and virtual), organizers and participants have the best of both worlds.

Retro PR Back to 101 Relationship – PESO – Raisa Acloque, Media Relations Specialist, D.C.

The effect of the last two years, including the pandemic and newsroom layoffs, will continue to shape the role of media relations in 2022. Increasingly, beat journalism is disappearing, and journalists now rely heavily on a variety of sources to provide trustworthy content. Journalists are playing the role of gatekeeper for audiences, sifting through information from niche influencers, bloggers, podcasters, and more. Given the speed at which news (and misinformation) travels, the PR industry must integrate its communications efforts in an efficient, effective manner. Adopting the PESO model strategic framework (Paid, Earned, Shared, or Owned) illustrates the value of media visibility, reach, and ROI. Therefore, cultivating deeper relationships in 2022 should be focused on personalization and purpose. Both journalists and PR professionals must join forces to craft unique, timely stories and put themselves in their target’s shoes while discovering ways to cut through the noise.

DEI, Culture Awareness, and Transparency Still Matter – Pilar Portela, US Media Relations Manager

As we continue to navigate the pandemic in 2022, a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), culture awareness, and transparency will continue to be essential for journalists and PR practitioners. Reporters covering stories on DEI want to be assured the newsrooms they are working for are following the same guidelines they are writing about. The alignment of internal and external DEI communications is crucial and can avoid a future organizational crisis.

Additionally, in 2022, organizations should continue to use the latest technology and tools to connect employees, including virtual meetings and team huddles.

More Reliance on AI and Data Journalism – Ronald Chung, Senior Media Relations Specialist, Hong Kong

From data collection, sorting, and verification to creating, editing, and redefining news, the extended duty of machines and AI in global newsrooms continues to put the jobs of human editors at risk. While the popularity of automated journalism grows unabated, growing concern over the credibility and reliability of such news is shared among the public.

The involvement of AI in journalism is inevitable, but the experience and creativity of human editors in overseeing and organizing news content has proven to be valuable. It becomes vital for media practitioners to equip themselves with the ability to utilize AI as a tool in generating news content to cope with the era of information explosion. The logical extension is for humans and AI to coordinate with joint force, utilizing the strengths of each and avoiding any weaknesses in the upcoming year and beyond. 

The Continued Growth of Newsletters and Podcasts – Jeanne Prisyazhnaya, Media Relations Specialist, New York

While newsletters and podcasts have become mainstream, their popularity continues to rapidly grow. Increasing subscribers and listeners motivates everyone from business owners to media conglomerates to produce these booming mediums. Last year, Insider gained controlling stake in Morning Brew, and Axios Local became a big player in the market by launching 14 local newsletters with plans to add 11 more.

As remote work continues to become a new normal, reporters are relocating from global media cities to explore opportunities within new local markets, including creating their own newsletters and podcasts. With an endless variety of topics and low production costs, many creators are turning to newsletter and podcast formats, allowing journalists to share news and curate content in new ways.


The Future of News Media in Big Tech’s World – Raisa Acloque, Media Relations Specialist, DC

Codependence between social media, tech companies, and news media has become evident now more than ever. Social media continues to be an essential tool for journalists to reach their audiences in 2021 with more than half (55%) of Twitter users receiving news on the platform regularly. Additionally, Meta and Google are incentivizing news organizations serving underrepresented communities and supporting journalistic research. Simultaneously, Big Tech’s soaring footprint and the future of local news are at stake in 2022. Local newsrooms will continue to close across the country as more than 200 news publishers are filing complaints against Big Tech for allegedly destabilizing the digital ad market. Furthermore, new legal constraints are on the verge as lawmakers are worried about the influence of tech companies, and, in the run-up to U.S. midterm elections next year, we can expect misinformation campaigns to return in full effect. It’s clear that we must acknowledge and be prepared for Big Tech’s presence while ensuring what truly matters: the importance of fair, objective, and unbiased news.
 
Emergence of Brand Citizenship and Continued Corporate Social Responsibility – Pilar Portela, US Media Relations Manager

It’s no longer enough for organizations to have Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices in place; they must add Brand Citizenship to their organizational plan as well. Even through the pandemic, consumers are embracing the concept of reusing, reselling, and repairing technology to live more sustainably and better the world. Consumers are also looking for products and services to advocate on their behalf, especially those that mirror their values and give them a sense of belonging. For successful Brand Citizenship, organizations should follow the five-step model to holistically influence and engage customers and build brand loyalty.

me-to-we-brand-citizenship-image

More Focus on Resources to Support Journalists – Matt Allinson, Global Director of Media Relations

A free press, as most of us understand it, is the backbone of a democratic society. The journalism industry informs its citizens, holds governments accountable, and increasingly battles misinformation campaigns that are currently more pervasive and persuasive than perhaps at any time in history. Journalism is an industry that is under increasing financial strain, particularly over the past decade, and has seen a decline in practitioners that rivals any industry.

Pew-newsroom-employment-image
Image source: Pew Research

The average journalist now works three or more beats and longer hours than ever before. News deserts are becoming more prevalent and permanent. Taken together, this should be cause for alarm for any citizen. It should also be cause for alarm for the Public Relations industry, which has long worked closely with the Journalism industry.

So how can you or your company help?

On a corporate level, a practical way to help journalists is to make their jobs easier.

  • Do research to understand which journalists cover content pertaining to your pitch and what will appeal to their audience. Avoid sending blanket pitches.
  • Provide the media with quality news releases that contain usable multimedia and have experts prepared and available should a journalist want a quote or more information for their story.
  • Sponsor both local and national journalism events, organizations, and conferences as a show of support, or provide funds for journalism scholarships.
  • Lend support to journalism union pushes, which have increased significantly (and successfully) over the past decade.

On a local level, subscribing to your local newspaper or providing financial support to a local public radio station goes a long way. Or simply support journalists you have read or respected via their SubStack, Patreon, newsletter, or podcasts.

The journalism industry will continue to evolve and diversify, but it will need your help. Without that help, we will all be less and/or misinformed.

When it comes to the future of media during this pandemic year, it’s important to keep in mind that what worked yesterday may change tomorrow. Use these top media relations trends as your guide to skyrocket in 2022.


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