It’s January, and that means we’re supposed to predict what 2023 will bring—or at least provide some perspective on what might happen. At this point a year ago, few people would have predicted that Russia would invade Ukraine, or several other major events of 2022. So it behooves us to take all measurement predictions with a bucket-load of sand.
What we’ve compiled here is a list of things we bet you’ll see more of. And some, thankfully, that might fade from our horizons. Definitely in your future for 2023 is change: sometimes unpredictable, often unexpected, and far too often surprising. So, be prepared. Good measurement data is the best way to get ready for whatever will crash through your doors in the coming year. You know there will be some kind of crisis, and with the right data you won’t let it go to waste.
Things we will see more of in 2023
AI and machine intelligence
Until now, all the vaunted benefits of machine intelligence have yielded little benefit for the average PR person. Although, we did learn a few years ago that for those in a crisis it can definitely help make better decisions. (See “Yes, You Can Use Artificial Intelligence to Predict a Crisis.”)
But now that Google has incorporated it into their analytics, it’s going to revolutionize how we measure our impact. The machine learning built into the new GA4 makes suggestions as to how to improve your content and communications programs.
For those with enough coverage, there are already measurement tools that use machine intelligence and algorithms to offer advice on which messages offer greater revenue potential. We predict that more measurement platforms will be offering such services in 2023.
What it means for you: To answer the question everyone is asking: No, I don’t think that AI is coming for your job. Although Agility PR is trying: they now offer an AI “Create your own press release” tool. (Can't wait to see the data on how many of those AI-created releases actually yield desirable coverage.) And of course there’s ChatGPT, which is a great writing assistant. If you can access it (the servers seem to be terminally overloaded), it will help you get past writer’s block and give you far more assistance in your research than Google ever did.
No, jack-booted thugs aren’t coming for your taxes. We’re talking about media audits. Driven by the proliferation of platforms and ways to communicate, combined with corporate consolidation and belt tightening, senior leadership is going to demand data on how you stack up against the competition in both earned and owned media. And they’re going to want proof that you’re communicating consistent messages and getting good value for your budget.
What it means for you: Set aside some time and/or budget to make sure your communications efforts are on target, effective, and efficient at reaching your target audience. Waste won't be tolerated in 2023.
We’ve already given you good reasons to adopt it. (See “Why PR and Comms People Need to Get On Board with GA4 and Measurement Now!”) But come July 1, you won’t have any choice, because GA4 will be the only Google Analytics.
What it means for you: Smart and successful communication professionals will have already made the switch, and will already have data to show their contribution to revenue.
Metrics from wearable devices
More than one in four Americans now uses a smart watch or other wearable device. (I’m one of them, by the way.) Which means more and more often they are getting their news and alerts on tiny little screens. It also means there are a lot of eyeballs that no one is reporting on as yet. And there is a ton more data about where you are and what you are doing that will be used by marketers to make better decisions.
What it means for you: PR needs to get closer to marketing if they want to understand and measure their full impact. And look out, because the ability to sense your feelings, emotions, and reactions is only a year or so away.
Budgets will be up
In part as a result of better metrics in GA4 and other platforms, earned media and content creators will be given a larger share of corporate budgets. I know, I know, it’s counterintuitive when everyone is predicting an economic slowdown. But I’ve run measurement companies through four recessions, and revenue has gone up every time.
What it means for you: Call it “research,” or “auditing,” but make sure some sort of measurement is in your budget.
Data analytics as a communications degree requirement
More and more professors are realizing the need for their graduates to understand data analytics. While I haven’t yet found a university that requires a data analytics master to graduate with a comms degree, I bet there’s one out there seriously considering it.
What it means for you: Educate yourself to keep up with the new demands of your job. You might want to start with Paine Publishing’s Measurement Camp.
More and more brands are realizing that they can get more coverage and get their messages out more effectively if they partner with either an organization to get their CSR stories out there, or with another brand to leverage synergy.
What it means for you: Look for partners that have the sort of complementary skills that will enhance your effectiveness.
More integrated communications
As the marketing funnel gets leakier, integrated communications to plug those leaks become more important than ever. (See “Someone Put Holes in the Marketing Funnel — Now it’s a Sieve.”) The lines have been getting blurrier for years between internal and external, owned, and earned. In 2023, in more and more companies, you’ll see all of communications coordinated into a single department.
What it means for you: Be prepared for your job to change.
Even if we do go into a recession and layoffs get more frequent, employer branding will still be important as a way to retain the valuable talent you have.
What it means for you: Do you know what your reputation is as an employer? How do your best and brightest workers view your company? How likely are they to resist the lure of bigger salaries elsewhere?
Podcasts and other channels you mightn’t have paid enough attention to
Podcast use is still growing. In the wake of all the kerfuffles at Twitter, so are platforms like TikTok, Reddit, and Tumblr.
What it means for you: As you revamp your “media list,” find out what your audience is actually using and reprioritize it accordingly.
Things we’ll see less of in 2023
Reach, impressions, and total engagements
Thanks to spam, bot farms, and other social media pollution, the numbers attached to metrics like “reach” and “impressions” have gotten so large that they no longer have a shred of credibility.
What it means for you: You’ve got to measure with more meaningful metrics. (See “Your Impressions Suck: Here Are 5 Simple Metrics that Actually Mean Something.”)
Too many influencers have gotten paid too much money and gotten into too much trouble. Big name influencers have now jumped the shark and no longer yield the benefits they used to. On the other hand, micro-influencers—otherwise known as real people who know a lot about one particular subject—are going to be much more valuable in 2023.
What it means for you: You won’t be able to just write a check to buy micro-influencers’ loyalty. You’ll have to earn it with good products, good advice, and good service.
With any luck, we’ll see fewer empty promises and tweets pledging adherence to DE&I goals.
What it means for you: Take more action around actually diversifying hiring and promotion practices. (See “How to Measure the Success of DE&I Efforts.”)
Veteran comms and PR pros
We’ve known for years that it is easier to teach a data analyst to do PR than it is to teach a PR person to do data analytics. In 2022 we saw more and more real data analysts join the ranks of internal PR departments. Data will continue to proliferate, and leadership will demand more meaningful metrics. So, when confronted with the need to master data analytics, many veteran PR and comms folks will retire or switch jobs.
What it means for you: Learn data analytics. You might want to start with Paine Publishing’s Measurement Camp.
White male journalists and their view of the world
Newsrooms of all sorts are realizing that diversity is the key to growing their audiences.
What it means for you: Chances are good that your media contact list should be changing as well. ∞