Rather than setting resolutions, our focus this year is reflecting and reframing the way we look at integrated communications for our clients in 2022. A successful integrated communications program is not built overnight, but rather than reinventing the wheel, we believe success is rooted in swinging back to the basics.

What’s that look like? Four of Franco’s resident experts broke down their top tips, tricks and trends to help you explore each portion of the PESO Model™ as it relates to your organization’s integrated success throughout 2022 and beyond.

Owned

Owned Media

Owned Media

Although it’s positioned last in the PESO Model title, let’s say it together: We’re prioritizing our owned media strategies in 2022! We’ve shared plenty of thoughts on what owned media is and why it matters, but simply put, without putting owned first, all your other marketing efforts will fall flat and fail to reach their full potential. This is what I believe will drive the most sustainable success for brands in 2022: 

Everything starts and ends with your website. If there’s one marketing resolution that’s a must for the new year, it’s conducting a website audit. If your website is dated, poorly mapped and lacking content and structure, you’re wasting time, energy and money with all your other marketing and communications. Your website should function as the core of these efforts, knowing it’s typically the first place users will come to learn more about your brand and the place you’re sending them from every other channel.
 

47% of website visitors are abandoning their journeys after viewing just one page on a website.
Source: Contentsquare 2021 Digital Experience Benchmark Report
You’re in control, so take advantage of it. The beauty of owned media is you own it. While the success of other areas of an integrated communications plan may be controlled by outside influences, there are endless opportunities to maximize the impact of elements like your website, email marketing, podcasts and webinars. Having a strong content strategy and marketing matrix are essential to making the most of your materials in 2022. Are there channels or mediums you’ve never touched? When you look beyond sales and start to think of your business as a resource for current and prospective customers, that’s when true results are unlocked.
Maximize and diversify how you’re connecting with your audience. Behind every click and impression is a human being with unique expectations, wants and needs. Segmentation and diversification are crucial to connecting with these different customer personas. While it can take time to perfect this process, analyzing audience activity through Google Analytics and other digital platforms fuels informed decisions for future enhancements. One of the easiest ways to elevate the overall content experience for users is through various multi-media elements. In addition to digital design, intuitive infographics and video content, adding audio elements to digital media is becoming increasingly popular. (See how we’re incorporating audio on the Franco blog is our recent value of communications blog post.)

Shared

Owned

Shared Media

There are some social media/digital trends that I’m confident will continue into 2022 (and really, they’re so woven into the fabric of social/digital now that they really aren’t trends anymore). Here’s what I believe will be a key focus for social media channels in 2022:

Getting back to the basics of relationship building and customer service. We talked about the getting back to the basics of marketing topic in a recent blog post, but zeroing in on social, marketers need to get back to using social channels to communicate and connect. Now, I fully realize that organic engagement is tough…even with paid content. The opportunity I see for brands in 2022 is to go back to using social channels for customer service – which is how many brands built a following on social channels way back in the day. But when you do get those coveted comments on your content, for goodness sake take the extra few minutes to respond – regardless of whether it’s positive, negative or neutral. I dream of a day when social comments return more to community building and less vitriol and trolling. The best way to encourage this is to talk back to the people who comment on your content.
Connecting with creators. Influencers are so 2018. We’ve seen this in our work at Franco – the best brand partners are the ones who put time and care into creating content. They want to work with brands they’re passionate about. They aren’t simply looking for a paycheck or free swag. The passion factor is what I think differentiates a creator from an influencer. Also, authenticity and alignment are key when building creator relationships. This line from the Hootsuite Social Trends 2022 report sums this concept up perfectly: “In 2022, the key to unlocking online communities (no matter the size of your business) is in the hands of digital creators.”
Sidenote: gauging impact solely based on follower size needs to be left behind when we turn the corner into the new year. If you’re still using that as a metric to determine partnership ops, STOP! Yes, the creator needs to have an audience, but 5,000 super engaged followers will provide more value to your brand than 100,000 unengaged followers any day.
69% of marketers plan to disburse more money on Instagram influencers than any other market this year.
Source: HubSpot 2022 Social Media Trends
Committing to a paid strategy. I almost lumped this into the “shouldn’t be a trend” bucket, but I think it’s worth standing on its own as a reminder to company leadership who may still question whether investing in paid advertising on social channels is worth it. Paid is a critical component of a successful integrated program. Just like we marketers have been preaching for awhile now, the goal isn’t to be everywhere – it’s to be on the channels where your audience is most active. And that’s where you should invest in paid. If anyone needs additional convincing, this HubSpot article about investing in paid social media is a great read.

Earned

Earned Media

While earned media – or media relations – is often viewed as a more traditional component of public relations, our integrated approach complements and improves our clients’ existing marketing and communications programs. After more than a decade working with nonprofit clients, as well as staying up-to-speed with Franco’s efforts across all industries, there are a few earned media trends I believe will be key to success in 2022:

Relationship building is shifting to building authentic partnerships. For as long as we can remember, the importance of PR professionals building amicable relationships with journalists and the media has always been preached. Today, newsrooms are shrinking and reporters are being stretched thin. With Franco having several former journalists on our team, we’ve shared many tips for PR professionals; however, in 2022 the real key to unlocking impactful coverage for our clients is taking the time to build deeper relationships. This means being a true partner. The goal of every pitch should be to paint a full picture of the story. This means going the extra mile by including multimedia assets – hi-res photos, infographics, video b-roll – to build a quality story.
 

Almost half of all journalists (47%) cover five or more beats and nearly the same amount file seven or more stories each week.
Source: Cision 2021 Global State of the Media 
Embrace the “new normal.” Simply put, the pandemic has changed how we coordinate interviews with the media. Over the last two years, recorded conversations over Zoom have become the new normal. While in-person segments and opportunities to connect face-to-face still serve great value, we look forward to embracing the world’s acceptance of more human, less polished content. This doesn’t just apply to earned media! Take advantage of the virtual tools at hand when capturing video for your owned content, like testimonials or thought leadership excerpts for social media.
Don’t limit your story ideas to just earned media. 2022 is the year of maximizing our efforts. Crafting the perfect pitch is an art form, so why stop there? As integrated communicators, our goal is to connect with targeted audiences across different channels. Whether an idea lands in the earned realm or not, there is always an opportunity to readapt and amplify. As yourself: Can this topic be a blog post? How about the foundation of your next newsletter? Should you start your own podcast? The opportunities are endless!
It’s also okay to accept that the media landscape has changed for many industries, which means pay-to-play opportunities aren’t what they used to be and should be considered a viable option for communicating your brand’s insights and positioning your thought leaders. 

Paid Media

Paid media will play a bigger role for B2B and B2C brands alike in 2022. According to BIA’s 2022 forecast, paid media spend is expected to increase by 11.4% compared to 2021, driven by heavy growth in digital advertising. But as the old adage goes, mo’ money, mo’ problems. 

Faced with increased competition for eyes (and clicks), a saturated market and growing pressure from above to deliver, knowing where, why and how to invest paid media budgets will present new challenges and opportunities to marketers in 2022. 

Re-assessing what success looks like. While Apple raised red flags for marketers in late 2020 with new updates to their consumer tracking policies, Google postponed their planned elimination of third-party cookies to 2023. While this may have seemed lightyears away at the time, now is the time for marketers to reassess the way they track and measure success.
With these cookies being a key method used by marketers for ad tracking and attribution, many brands are prioritizing the collection of relevant, first-party data in 2022 to inform their future approach.
Exploring new platforms and mediums. With a windfall of new social media platforms and rapid publisher digitalization providing countless new paid placements, 2022 will be a year of exploration for many marketers. 
According to HubSpot’s annual survey, 29% of marketers plan to invest in short-form video content for the first time in 2022. This comes as bite-sized video content on platforms like TikTok rises in popularity. While the platform ranks #6 according to brand usage by marketers, HubSpot found 62% of those who leverage it plan to increase their investment in 2022, the highest of any social platform.
For brands looking to reach audiences in new markets, influencer marketing is already playing a huge role in the year ahead. According to HubSpot, 21% of marketers plan on investing in influencer marketing for the first time in 2022, despite it already ranking as the top trend leveraged by marketers with the biggest ROI.
29% of marketers plan to invest in short-form video content for the first time in 2022.
Source: HubSpot 2022 Marketing Industry Trends Report
Focus on creating customer-first messaging. With more competition to reach and engage their audiences, out-of-date, outbound marketing tactics are taking a backseat to innovative inbound marketing strategies in 2022.
Brands are more connected to their audiences than ever before. This provides an invaluable opportunity to tie what your audience cares about to your brand messaging in a truly authentic way. Take a moment to reflect on your brand’s “why” when crafting your messaging. Will your audience care – why? And how do you know? Answering these queries is key to tailoring and targeting your approach. 

Interested in putting these tips, tricks and trends to work? Contact us. 

Connect with the authors on LinkedIn: Lexi Trimpe, Andrea Kenski, Nikki Little, Rachel Burnard