Will we come back to center in 2023? The headlines can be difficult to believe. Climate change is on an unstoppable march. Big tech appears to be melting down. Politics and economic power are intertwined and insane. Hatred coats our social channels — transgender violence, racism. I could go on, but you read the news, too.
However, as we look to 2023, I’m hopeful. All cycles come to an end, especially wild ones. Down markets spawn innovations. The whip of backlash against inclusion by patriarchal workplace cultures is evidence that those who hold the most power feel threatened — that progress is pooling in the groundwater.
What does this mean for communicators? Here’s what the senior team at Inkhouse sees as we look ahead:
Back to fundamentals
Everyone’s debating if companies should quit Twitter given the tumult caused by Elon Musk’s takeover. Whatever Twitter becomes, and whatever evolves next, the basics are true: go where your audiences are. Control what you can: your words and actions. They speak for themselves no matter what platform you’re using. And be ready for change. We’ll also see emerging platforms and maybe even some old school word-of-mouth as the primary means of consuming information and news next year.
ROI over hype
The press will want more proof. The days of unicorn valuations and demonstrating potential by the size and stature of your venture round are waning. Why do you matter? What problem are you solving? How? And is it working? Authentic stories will be the winners.
Customers take top billing (again)
For more than a year, we’ve been saying that your employees are your number one audience. See the great resignation. Of course, your employees are still important, but a down economy will force a shift in communications, because businesses need to make money.
The next innovation wave will begin
The press will be looking for the early laps of waves bringing in the next innovations. Amazon rose out of the dot-com crash. Early-stage venture capital organizations are already investing in the next generation of innovations. We've got our eyes on tech fighting climate change, protecting consumers and saving enterprises time and money.
Creators are the present and future of digital marketing
TikTok has created a landslide of #nofilter content across all social media platforms. Over-produced content, although beautiful, isn't "real." People want to see content in its rawest and purest form. With artificial intelligence having a heavier influence on what shows up in our news feeds, and people having shorter and shorter attention spans, it’s time to double down on custom content, community engagement and partner collaborations.
Newsletters are back, or they never really left
This venerable format is as relevant as ever both for earned — Axios, Puck, MorningBrew and hyper-focused offerings on Substack — and owned content. According to our client Sinch, the online publishing industry has more than quadrupled its sending volume over the last two years and Axios’ “Smart Brevity” has codified a “less is more” template to help comms teams go directly to their audiences in a mobile-first format. They need to be part of your owned and earned plans for 2023.
Be ready for new chaos
With rebalancing comes additional swings that no one can predict, although over here, we’re pretty good at imagining the worst and most bizarre cases. Accidental data transfers, hacks, workplace violence, racism left unchecked, faulty business models, layoffs, unionization and I’m just scratching the surface of what we’ve seen. Every company needs a crisis plan before the fact, even if you’re one of the good ones — not everyone who works for you and with you has the same good intentions. If you bristle at the word “crisis,” we can call it an “issues” plan, but have one. An intentional plan can turn a massive crisis into a single news cycle.
The act of rebalancing can be wobbly, so I expect that 2023 will bring us more swings of the proverbial pendulum, but I’m taking the long view.
Beth Andrix Monaghan is the founder and CEO of Inkhouse, a strategic communications firm.