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2023 PR Trends

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If there’s one thing we’ve learnt over the past year, it’s that change is guaranteed. Change can happen in a heartbeat. Since COVID, we’ve seen tech businesses adapt and innovate to meet customer demand, and quite rightly. This has resulted in new or enhanced services, tailored packages or completely new income streams being offered.

Tech businesses now understand that they need to be as resilient as possible to weather any storm.

But the challenges on the horizon are expected to shape the way tech businesses operate in future.

Quality of service and strength of customer relationships has never been more important. Building a loyal customer base and making them feel valued is a proven strategy for success. And targeted and proactive external communications play a significant role.

Investment in communications now at this difficult time can see businesses storm ahead.

How can PR and Comms Help Alleviate an Economic Downturn?

Recession, rising high inflation, a contracting economy, a sharp downturn, a bear market. This has become reality for UK businesses. If you hold the purse strings to a budget, it’s important to hold your nerve during a recession. It’s important not to be reactionary and panic. Keep focused on your company’s long-term objectives and use PR and comms to gain a competitive advantage.

The tech businesses that will win will be the ones that keep relationships strong with all their key audiences, who are strategic in approach but who allow for a healthy dose of opportunism.

During a recession, businesses immediately look for services that can be cut to save money. In the past, the PR, comms and marketing teams have been at the sharp end of this. However, businesses are learning that they need communicators.  Clients, customers, employees, shareholders, investors and stakeholders all need to be kept close, up to speed and buy into company decisions and developments. The sales pipeline also needs support at the top end of the funnel to continue to build relationships with prospects.

It’s imperative to ensure your messages are considered, curated and communicated during tough times. Turning off comms in the short-term will hurt your future goals and economic growth.

A 2010 Harvard Business Review study of 4,700 companies going through recessions found that “firms that cut costs faster and deeper than rivals don’t necessarily flourish. They have the lowest probability—21%—of pulling ahead of the competition when times get better.”

Research shows that cutting PR and marketing is a bad idea. Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft at the time, was famously quoted: “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.”

Where Should You be Spending on Your PR and Comms in a Recession?

1. Increased Share of Voice

If your competition reduces their PR and comms activity, this is the time to secure a competitive advantage. By holding your nerve and continuing to bring value to the sector you can secure a strong share of voice, build third-party endorsement and elevate your position. If you switch off now, you’ll have to spend a lot more time and effort switching back on and mobilising.

2. Online Reputation Management

Today, your reputation online is your reputation. A quick Google search can be make-or-break whether a potential client chooses you or someone else. One tweet in poor taste can undo a decade of brand building.

It is essential that you proactively craft your online presence to give the best possible representation of your company. Nurture, curate and give it your constant attention.

Negative press, reviews, and trolls can be harmful to a company’s reputation. And in today’s digital world, content lives on forever, whether on page one or page twenty-one of the search engine results. So, you need to be aware of the digital threats that are lurking.

Any cost cutting in these areas can negatively impact your brand. A reduction in monitoring can mean that negative content is left lurking, only to arise when you least want it – in a customer’s search result. A reduction in maintaining positive share of voice (as we mention above) and fuelling Google’s search results with positive mentions of your company could mean that a customer simply goes elsewhere.

Your leadership also need to consider their online reputation. The personal brands of your management reflect on your organisation and so their online presence also needs to be put under the microscope. 

3. Increase Customer Trust and Loyalty

It’s not just a case of being seen by customers today, they need to trust you to buy from you. And maintaining that trust creates loyal customers. Both b2b and b2c customers are savvy thanks to the volume of online information, reviews and news sources at their disposal and informing their decision making.

Telling your tech brand story is a large part of shaping how your target audience views you. Your comms agency will help you unpick your brand’s story.  It allows your audience to look beyond your products and services and understand more about where you’re coming from, your ethos, your expertise and what sets you apart. Thus, developing an emotional connection with your brand, which is a currency so valuable that brands are willing to invest even bigger budgets in deepening this connection.

To create a compelling narrative in such a way that reflects an authentic brand story, your brand voice and brand personality must shine through.

4. Attract the Next Generation of Employees

The talent crisis isn’t going away because of the recession. You will still need to keep the best and hire the best, providing great career opportunities as unemployment rises.

Leveraging your owned channels from your website blog, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tik Tok or Facebook is a great way to attract new employees. Social media is changing the way that young people do their research online.40% of Gen Z now use TikTok for search over Google. So use these channels to tell your brand story and promote all the things you are doing to create a fun place to work that rewards people. Showcase the culture and ethos of yourcompany to create a connection, in the same way that you would a customer.Use video and images as well as engaging content to help you attract the best of the best.

5. Demonstrate Your ESG investment to Customers and Stakeholders

There is a risk that tighter budgets will mean less investment in ESG and corporate sustainability. But cutting investment in this area represents a significant risk in the long-term, given upcoming legislative changes and the engaging nature of Gen-Z.

Continuing to communicate on ESG – and that can include being transparent about the challenges – will maintain trust from clients, customers and stakeholders. This could mean extending your community engagement, your commitments to diversity and inclusion, your sustainability initiatives and much more.

Determining targets and goals is a complex process and not all steps being taken internally may be visible or easily communicable. Your comms agency can help you to navigate that journey and to develop your ESG key messages in your communication strategies. From your website, social media to thought leadership content, effective ESG communications will pay dividends in the future.

About the author


Sarah Woodhouse

Sarah Woodhouse, director,Ambitious PR is a seasoned public relations and communications professional with over 20 years’ experience working in the UK and Asia. Agency-side, she has worked for Edelman, McCann Erickson and previously co-owned impactasia in China that was sold to Cohn & Wolfe (WPP) in 2011.