It’s well documented how the past two years have thrown all our usual PR tools and tactics up in the air. If our go-tos used to be surveys and floating things down the Thames, they have now been replaced with Zoom events and snackable content as PR tactical shorthand as we’ve adapted to what’s possible within the realms of social distancing and lockdowns. And we’ve done well out of it – so much so that Zoom’s revenue has quadrupled in recent years. But I know I can’t be alone when the thought of another virtual launch brings me out in hives. With the removal of all Covid-related restrictions now in place in the UK, what’s next?

As the leader of our CPG, Food, Drink + Retail practice, my team specialises in injecting a creative lens, story and editorial interest in quite often day-to-day, essential products which lack news value on their own. Unlike the world of luxury or tech, these products don’t often sell themselves, so we need a series of smart tactics in our armour to really set them apart and answer people’s need to buy into brands that entertain, educate or better them.

Being coined The Great Re-engagement, trends forecasters are predicting a deliberate reconnection with the real world this year and the PR tactics we implement will actively enable people to do this. While I don’t think the traditional PR event, complete with step & repeat board and ‘hold & grin’ content will be making a straightforward comeback, much like our work-life, I do think we will start to see the following hybrid trends emerge this year, allowing our efforts to reconnect brands meaningfully with their audiences:

The real life event
You heard me right. It’s time to use all our senses again! When it comes to marketing new products, there is no greater intro than being able to touch, see and taste what we’re talking about. But, unlike our launches of the past, hybrid will be key. AR and a blended real and virtual way to engage with both the event itself and the new product will be key – a simple live stream will not cut it. We have started to already see hints of what this could look like coming from the fashion industry – think Machine-A’s augmented reality boutique for inspiration.

Further TTL integration
It’s a tale as old as time, but integration of paid and earned can provide a potent combination in stopping people in their tracks and making them take notice. With more people out and about again, we’ll see the return of innovative Out of Home as a driver for earned conversation. Our very own Sport team’s recent Adidas Breast Gallery spoke exactly to this and proved a masterclass in striking that channel balance for maximum talkability.

In store interactions
Many clients within the CPG, Food and Drink space have seen a marked impact of the loss of footfall in store over the past two years. But the simplicity and ease of online shopping luring people away from busy shopping centres have meant that our real-life shopping experiences need to provide more than a great deal to attract people back – they need to be entertaining, and this is where brands and products come in. Finding innovative ways to capture people’s attention at the point of purchase to drive that attention and engage with your audience will be increasingly important; particularly in a space where innovation doesn’t always do the talking. Expect to see an increase in in-store exclusives, events, meet and greets and cannot-miss content as a way to directly interact with consumers again and tempt them back to the high street. I loved this Greggs x Primark collab launch as a way to get people queueing again.

While these tactics and trends may not be exhaustive, it’s clear that The Great Re-engagement will provide a truly exciting time to be in PR and make an impact on the revitalisation of how we engage and interact with brands. What a time to be a part of it.