Public Relations Agency Partnership

An Elite Top 100 Agency Looks at What’s Next in PR

By Kersa Haughey

Change is the only constant in our world. In fact, it’s so reliable that two of our agency mantras are based on it – “there’s always a better way” and “be there before.” Good or bad, change is ripe with opportunity for those who get there first, including our tech and energy clients. We’re not simply willing to challenge the status quo to help our partners move with the changing tides, we see it as an imperative of doing good work and as our key differentiator.

And boy, has our focus on adapting our strategies and skillsets to best address the world around us been put to the test over the last two years. All of which makes our recent inclusion in the PRNews Agency Elite Top 100 list for the second year in a row that much sweeter.

The PRNews Agency Elite Top 100 list recognizes the most innovative public relations and communications firms in the business. This year’s selection focused on highlighting the agencies best equipped to work in an increasingly fast-paced, ever-changing world.

“Flexibility and evolution are two words that immediately come to mind when I think about the agencies on this year’s list. The firms this year stood out for their work on the most important issues of today, including DEI initiatives, social impact causes and COVID-19 relief work, as well as their understanding of the importance of being nimble in an always-on media world.”

Erika Bradbury, Editorial Director, PRNews

Since this is the 2022 Top 100 list, we thought it appropriate to share the communications trends we’ve pinpointed as ones that should be on every B2B marketer’s radar and how we’re committing to “be there before” in the upcoming years.

ESG is as both an opportunity to do good and tell better stories.

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors are becoming increasingly valuable indicators for how a company will fair. And while the concept of ESG was born out finance, it’s now a priority for marketing, investors, customers, employees, and the general public who all seek a new lens for evaluating businesses in today’s rapidly changing world. One that, more than ever, values issues such as climate change, social inequity, resource constraints, and technological innovation.

We believe this lens provides an enormous opportunity to frame corporate stories within the ESG trends and issues that matter most to the business and its stakeholders. An ESG issue is either material to the business (risk and/or opportunity) or stakeholders expect the brand act on it. This enables marketers to stop chasing every social issue and home in on making a meaningful difference, not just in words but throughout their business operations.

For more information on the role marketing and PR agencies can expect to play in telling their brand’s ESG story and some ESG 101 resources, take a look at this article from INK’s ESG strategist, Mallory Baker.

Indie journalism grows and media continues to raise the bar.

We don’t expect that the traditional news industry will ever return to pre-pandemic operations, particularly due to publication consolidation, still slim newsrooms, and younger generations’ changing preferences for consuming information. As a result, we’ve seen the rise of newsletters and indie journalism as reporters – and Substack – took matters into their own hands to continue their careers after pandemic-driven layoffs and furloughs. We’ll continue to see new channels like this crop up as journalists work to find creative ways to inform an evolving readership.

Further, the media is raising the bar for their stories higher than ever. With no shortage of huge issues to cover, they are laser-focused on what matters most to the public. PR professionals, agencies, and in-house teams must be more purposeful, resourceful, and useful than ever. We’ll need to flex our agility and identify how brands can help in the bigger landscape of news and public needs. For more guidance here, one of our recent ebooks digs into this year’s unique media landscape, and how your PR program can be attentive to its challenges while securing opportunities that drive impact for your business.

Influencers won’t get a pass on authenticity and transparency.

With the surge in media and brand skepticism over the past few years, particularly during COVID, younger millennials and Gen Z have turned the magnifying glass on influencers. Influencers who are transparent and authentic with their audiences will see their followings rise. We also expect to see a larger swath of B2B companies relying on robust influencer programs to reach their target audiences in the coming years, but with a more focused eye on ad transparency, quality over quantity, and engagement over easily-purchased vanity metrics.

The Great Resignation drives investment in employer branding.

All industries are feeling the squeeze as record numbers of employees change jobs. Downward trends in birthrate, retirement age, and college enrollment were already leading us towards a smaller workforce and more competitive job market. Then the pandemic hit, accelerating the impact of these shifts all at once. Smart brands are now investing in employer branding efforts to compete for and retain talent.

According to LinkedIn, 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before ever applying for a job, and companies with strong employer brands see a 43% reduction in recruiting costs.

A B2B organization’s employer brand should be an extension of its corporate identity and share its meaning. This complements but differs from existing internal and corporate communications efforts in that the purpose of employer branding is specifically to cultivate a positive perception among potential and existing employees, and support the company’s long-term talent strategy.

There’s always a better way

We thank PRNews for including INK on its prestigious annual Agency Elite Top 100 list of innovative and industry-shaping PR agencies. As we address these current trends and recognize and respond to new ones, we’ll keep the content flowing. Because behind these top agencies are people who are open to learning and changing their strategies. As we like to say, there’s always a better way, and if we stay open to that and each other, we might just keep finding it.