A lookahead to 2022 from across the Cicero/amo team

by the Cicero/amo team

Corporate Communications lookahead – by Tom Teodorczuk, Senior Account Manager:

A dinosaur walks into a bar and sits down next to a punter. The dinosaur says, ‘What do you do?’ The punter says, ‘I’m a print journalist.’ The dinosaur replies, ‘I thought you lot were extinct.’

We should be braced for more extinction and hardship for print and legacy media in 2022. Both sales of newspapers and the number of journalists continue to fall as print outlets increasingly focus on online subscription models. And yet traditional media still continues to dictate the news agenda far more than digital counterparts. For all the clicks, too many leading websites are still somewhat lacking when it comes to current affairs clout.

Since the start of the pandemic, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been reborn as media reformers while Marcus Rashford is now the country’s leading anti-poverty campaigner, so it’s unwise to make too many nailed-on predictions.

But in a year’s time, expect more leading media companies to be running seven-day operations across their titles, global internet users to exceed 5 billion for the first time, physical media events to come back strongly as we emerge from the pandemic and TikTok and Snapchat to drive the news agenda even more so than they are presently doing.

Even more attention will be paid to the perils of social media and the polarised nature of political discourse. 

But whether all this sound and fury is enough for the digital asteroid to finally wipe out the media dinosaurs in 2022, as it has been threatening to do for so long, remains highly doubtful.

UK Public Affairs lookahead – by Sonia Khan, Associate Director

As we approach the end of 2021, December is looking tumultuous for the Government, with a high-profile by-election to contend with as well as potential flashpoints on online safety, Brexit and fishing rights, and further COVID-19 restrictions in the wake of the Omicron variant. As energy providers struggle to contend with record-high gas prices, rising inflation and the prospect of an increase in interest rates, consumers are facing the real prospect of a cost-of-living crisis this winter.

Looking at the other side of the New Year, Festival UK, celebrating UK creativity and innovation, is due to take place in 2022. Expect the now-infamous Peppa Pig to take centre stage, bringing home the bacon as a treasured British export. Elsewhere, full border controls will be introduced for goods crossing into Northern Ireland on New Year’s Day, barring any further breakthroughs in the latest ‘Sausage Wars,’ though the ultimate challenge for 2022 will be the strategic vision led by Her Majesty’s Government. Now that COP26 is over, what will the incoming year be known as? Hopefully, it is more the year of Levelling Up and less the year of the (Peppa) Pig.

European Public Affairs lookahead – by Jörn-Jakob Röber, Director Financial Services and Digital:

2021 has been a year of change for the EU Public Affairs team, with many new colleagues joining and further strengthening the team, additional focus areas to work on and a busy EU policy agenda, with proposals impacting business and clients on a wide range of issues. The proposed changes aim to address climate change, sustainability and energy efficiency, the digital services and digital competition landscape, financial services and open finance, to name but a few.

2022 is expected to be equally transformative. With the EU Commission’s mandate already reaching its half term next year, the EU executive is keen to push many of the proposals over the finishing line. Policy proposals addressing climate change are expected to continue taking centre stage for a large part of next year. While notoriously difficult to predict and some of the new ways of working are likely to stay, there is hope that many of the restrictions due to the pandemic can finally be lifted for good next year and we see a return to some of pre-pandemic activities in Brussels and member states in terms of in-person events, client visits and meetings.

Digital and social lookahead – by James Donald, Head of Digital

One thing we can say with confidence is 2021 is the year that TikTok became truly established. User growth was fuelled by lockdowns in 2020, and with concerns about Chinese ownership less prominent and threats from a former President no longer relevant, TikTok hit 1 billion monthly users in September 2021. Now brands are welcoming the opportunities a new platform presents and we’re likely to see more and more companies embracing TikTok’s short-form videos in 2022.

One organisation feeling threatened by TikTok is Facebook – rebranded Meta at a group level – which responded with its own version of TikTok in Instagram Reels. For a number of years now Facebook has had a problem with young users leaving its platform, and its rebrand is an attempt to differentiate platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp from Facebook itself. Facebook will continue to try and win these users back to Instagram in 2022 but is likely to struggle in the face of TikTok’s ever increasing popularity.

A final platform to keep an eye on is Twitter, as it continues its experimentation with new features and monetisation. I predict its continued push of Spaces – its audio rooms feature – and more companies to experiment with these. A wider rollout of “Super Follows” is likely to come soon. As Twitter seeks to add extra sources of revenue, its response to paid for platforms such as Patreon allows users to charge followers for additional content and is currently being trialled on a small number of accounts in the US. It has also seen its long-standing CEO Jack Dorsey recently step down, replaced by Parag Agrawal.

What might this mean? One difference is their attitudes to towards content moderation. While Twitter under Dorsey was for a long time resistant to removing content from the platform over free speech concerns, Agrawal has in the past stated Twitter should “focus less on thinking about free speech” and should “serve a healthy public conversation”. It will be interesting to see what new measures are introduced to tackle the ongoing issues of abuse and misinformation in 2022.

But this is social media, by the end of 2022 we could be talking about a platform none of us have heard of yet!

Market research lookahead – by Andrew Roberts, Head of Research

Businesses will choose to be increasingly brave in their communications messages: Not all businesses have loud voices in their marketplace. For many, the risk of putting their heads above the parapet in terms of public communications has been one they have been unwilling to take. In 2022 we will see more of these types of business realise that the benefits of telling their corporate narratives outweigh the risks, but as they take their first steps, they will require support from those that have been there and done that.

Hybrid working will fall under the spotlight: We have all seen the LinkedIn polls that ask whether the 9-5 is out of date or whether the office is outdated. Flexibility for the workforce is undeniably the way forward, but as firms get to grips with implementing this permanently, there will also be a period where employees work out whether remote working is truly for them. Not everyone thrives under the same conditions and over a longer period more people will question whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

Political monitoring lookahead – by Aaron Kumar, Business Development Manager, Cicero Pulse

2021 proved to be a positive year for Pulse as the team worked hard on delivering quality and up to date monitoring for our clients. In addition to this we also brought in several notable new clients such as Zurich and the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment.

As we move ahead, we look forward to meeting our clients and prospects in person in 2022.

While we will continue to work to deliver for our clients and win new business in the financial services space, however in 2022 we will also strive to continue working outside our perceived comfort zone and expand our reach in other sectors.

If you would like to find out more about how Cicero Pulse can support your organisation in the new year, please do get in touch and we would be delighted to arrange a free trial of the service.

This article appeared in the Cicero/amo December 2021 newsletter.

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Tom Teodorczuk

Senior Account Manager