The Rise of PR: The 2023 Story

Five months into 2023, and the public relations business worldwide is already abundant with brand success stories and award winning communication campaigns. While the year itself may not be one of the most evolutionary as long as history is concerned, the range of PR campaigns that stemmed this year have cemented the significance of public relations, driving the point that it is no longer about putting out fires or quick white-washes, rather it has become central to brand building. The best part of all the glorious public relations campaigns released this year is the mission and impact they carry.

Far ahead of fancy advertorials or viral social media campaigns, the PR campaigns of today have transitioned to something far more meaningful, that is on-the-ground action for societal issues. This April, the campaign for Kids Online Safety under Dove Self Esteem project was loud and clear about addressing the rise in youth mental health issues linked to social media. The 3-minute videos came with trigger warnings of sensitive content, laying bare the toxic reality of social media, eating disorders and mental health in its raw form. And there’s more to it. Dove aims to take this fight further by pushing for legislation in the form of Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) bill, which calls for transparency of social media apps to mitigate these issues.

Courtesy of Dove Self Esteem Project

With all the social media floating around, one would think outdoor advertising might be in its last era, given the clutter of it. But the traditional means of advertising didn’t disappoint. Curated in the shades of sustainability, IKEA’s Recycled Toy ads were a breath of fresh air amongst the rampant branded hoardings. Punctuated by compelling copywriting and clean visuals, the campaign appeared endearing and almost innocent in its appeal. Stirring a personable blend of promoting eco-friendly toys and the importance of recycling, the campaign reinstated the signature appeal of IKEA. The last time outdoor advertising was this fun was during Netflix’s OOH promotion of Stranger Things Season 4.

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Not to say traditional ways of PR don’t work. Rihanna’s Super Bowl Half-time promotion of Fenty is a perfect example of how the scale of an event can be coupled with the celebrity appeal to hit the desired brand targets. Hit they did, as per brand performance tool, Lanchmetrics, the popstar generated US$88.3 million in media impact value, with Fenty generating US$5.6 million in media value, and each part of her all-red ensemble also sharing the limelight. The event may famously not pay its performers for the show, but best believe Rihanna did make her performance count.

Rihanna’s Super Bowl Haft-Time Show

Onto the prominent figures track, Prince Henry’s debut novel Spare did cause a stir. And window displays had an important role to play. For all it may be called cheeky or even audacious, the display at Bert’s books did showcase a sense of wit not often seen in the industry. The press and brands did their part, the book being supplemented by candid conversations, clippings & silent window displays, all curtain-lifters in their own right. Going viral on social media being a bonus, the positioning once again reminds us of how all PR elements, however small they may be, have the potential to be the breakout campaign of the year.

                                             Window display at Bert’s books

While experts may still be divided over the spectrum of ‘all publicity is good publicity’, more successful campaigns do show a commonality, authenticity and a strong sense of purpose. With rising calls of inclusivity and diversity around the world, the PR landscape is the reflection of society’s most visible undercurrents which are fast becoming the norm. Statista
forecasts the global value of the public relations market at $107 billion in 2023, with a positive CAGR of 5.7 percent, but it’s beyond a numbers game. For all we know, pop-ups may be the next big thing.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Vishakha Choudhary
Vishakha is a communications strategist who is passionate about all things PR. Having completed her master's in business management from Singapore Management University, she has experience working in the areas of PR, client management and brand marketing. Based in Singapore, she is a believer of social sustainability and can be found volunteering on weekends.

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