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Get the inside scoop on the latest strategies, trends and best practices for engaging your audiences and converting your buyers.

It’s that time of year again when we’re inundated with tips on self-improvement and predictions for the months ahead. However, 2023 promises to be especially interesting for marketers. 

Over the past 25 years, we’ve seen two major recessions, huge advances in technology, and historically significant events, including the global pandemic. With all of that upheaval in mind, we sat down with Tonya Klause, Marketing and Communications Director at Microsoft Federal, and Alisa Whyte, CEO of Merritt Group, to discuss their thoughts on the future of marketing and PR.

Keep reading for their top predictions on what’s working, what’s new, and what’s next, and tune into our podcast, Lay of the Brand, for the full story.


What’s working: ongoing trends to pay attention to


One thing that hasn’t changed when it comes to marketing in the federal space is the importance of keeping your customer top of mind. Whether it’s messaging, events, storytelling, or more, taking a customer-centric approach to marketing is essential for connecting with your target audience — especially when working across virtual channels.

“Customer-first is a lesson that we learn over and over again. Particularly in our case with marketing to the government, that has to stay front and center for us in messaging, in our events, and in any of our storytelling.” Tonya Klause, Marketing and Communications Director at Microsoft Federal

In the same vein, marketing and PR teams must also focus on grounding their messaging in the right industry context and competitor environment. For this to work, we recommend examining your messaging perspective twice a year and prioritizing industry-centricity over product-centricity.

Take, for example, the way PR teams pitch bylines and breaking company developments to news outlets. These efforts are often far more successful when you understand what topics the reporter usually covers and what kind of information their readers care about. It also helps when you’ve taken the time to develop a personal relationship with the reporter, as strong press connections are central to PR success. Our current media landscape may have broadened in recent years to encompass reporters, influencers, and freelancers, but what hasn’t changed is the value of those personal connections.


What’s new: significant changes shaping the marketing landscape


One area in which the marketing landscape has changed, however, is the move to digital. The pandemic certainly helped accelerate our digital transformation, but the increase in virtual channels has also changed the way we market. People’s attention spans have contracted, requiring PR and marketing teams to refine their storytelling. Brands can also streamline their efforts thanks to digital and marketing automation tools, leading to an increase in smaller-scale budgets. What once would have cost millions in paid promotion can now be done for hundreds of thousands of dollars instead. Many B2B technology companies have begun investing in hyper-focused, hyper-targeted campaigns.

There’s also been a shift in the way we approach events. While many have embraced the return to in-person, the pandemic opened our eyes to what can be accomplished in virtual meeting spaces. From training, to conferences, to marketing in the metaverse, brands have a wealth of opportunities when it comes to digital events. The key will be striking the right balance between in-person, hybrid, and virtual while still driving impactful results.

“There’s a lot of debate internally with our teams around where we invest our money. Do we continue to invest in big events and big booth build-outs? The jury’s still out on that. 


I don’t think it’s ever going to be completely ‘one or the other,’ but we’re getting creative with the hybrid model.” Tonya Klause, Marketing and Communications Director at Microsoft Federal

Finally, brands have begun to humanize themselves more — striving for authenticity in their storytelling, marketing materials, and communications. It’s no longer enough to focus on products and services. Companies must also think about their approach to topics like diversity, equity, and inclusion; sustainability; social responsibility; and more. In the federal space, mission marketing has taken hold as agencies look to navigate the intersection of customer experience and policy priorities. And while this is a growth area for many, focusing on your end customer’s perspective is a great place to start.


What’s next: our top predictions for 2023


So, with the above trends in mind, what should we be focused on in 2023?

  • The economy is top of mind for many in the year ahead. As budgets tighten and companies look to streamline their operations, marketing and PR teams will have to refine their content and campaign priorities to be as efficient as possible. One way to do this is through a heightened focus on data analytics. Companies will have to be selective when deciding where to invest and when they can afford to experiment with new tactics or technology. Data can help illuminate which strategies are working so that marketing and PR teams can maximize their spend.
  • Similarly, as organizations are pushed to do more with less, we will need to shift our focus from lead generation to customer retention. Building out healthy nurture cycles is a critical component of retaining customers in challenging economic times, so marketing and sales teams will need to work closely to ensure customers have a positive experience. It’s also important to realize that B2B tech buyers are trending younger, and this new generation likes to consume content in a different way. As marketers, we will need to adjust the way we market to different age groups, personas, and demographics accordingly.

Ready to begin planning your next great marketing or PR campaign? Check out our comprehensive services and industry expertise. And for even more insights on what to expect in 2023, be sure to listen to the latest episode of Lay of the Brand.


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