By Anastasiya Golovatenko, Account Director at Sherpa Communications
The novel coronavirus changed everything for businesses. 2020 witnessed seismic shifts in the public relations industry, as PR professionals were forced to deviate from their strategic plans and find new innovative ways to help brands communicate their message, to their target audience
As the [lockdown restrictions began to get lifted,] organizations that adapted to the wave of changing trends brought on by the pandemic came out in a stronger position. The year made brands realize that a strong communications strategy and crisis communication plan are key for not only staying afloat but also for business success. As such PR strategies were rapidly evolving – and 2021 will see the beginning of a new era of communication.
As we look forward to a new year, listed below are some trends for an organization to consider while building their communications strategy for this year -
Increased reliance on digital marketing
As the world becomes more and more connected, social media has proved to be a powerful platform for marketeers to increase their reach, generate leads, and stay engaged with loyal customers. It was reported that 46-51% of US adults were spending more time on social media since the outbreak began. In the new reality, audiences will continue to demand complete transparency from the brands they interact with online, so marketeers will need to ensure the information they provide is clear, accurate, and always in line with their brand message.
Additionally, video marketing should be considered an integral part of a brand’s digital marketing strategy. 66% of individuals surveyed said they would prefer to watch a short video to learn about a product or service. In 2021, brands should invest [more money ] in video marketing in order to create a powerful visual tool, to boost engagement and improve customer experience across digital platforms.
Content is king, but quality content will be the emperor in 2021
According to a report by Zazzle media. 96% of marketeers believe that content marketing has been successful for [creating] brand awareness, demand, and revenue. For marketeers to succeed, it’s imperative to create content that addresses the needs of the audience, and also bolsters key business KPIs.
Consumers today are exposed to a huge volume of content across the web. Creating quality content in the form of a social post, blog post, YouTube video or Instagram Reel, whitepaper or a podcast requires planning, understanding the audience and establishing authority in the field, by providing content that proves your subject-matter expertise.
In 2021, we can expect savvy marketeers to continue embracing creative ways of connecting with consumers, to build awareness and drive profitability in the long run.
CEO – the frontline leader
Earlier, the role of a CEO was to motivate employees and to drive visionary change at a strategic level. But, the modern CEO can no longer afford to be hidden from view and must be actively involved in strategic communication with its customers. People love to connect with people.
Many studies show that reputation and brand are both at risk in organizations that do not use the powerful lever of executive visibility. The market place is incredibly crowded today and the public appetite for listening to business leaders has improved quite a lot. The right communication strategy for executive leaders, in this unforgiving hyper-connected era, can build credibility, humanize the company and ultimately help in achieving business goals.
With the challenges and uncertainty posed by COVID-19, the need for a more human and purpose-driven conversation has become extremely important. This year and beyond will see the CEO in the frontline, addressing issues and opportunities across an ever-growing list of digital channels.
Virtual events – the New Normal
A Northstar Meetings Group survey revealed that event planners are seeing an increasing demand for all things virtual for the next 12-18 months. With events and conferences beginning to appear again in marketing strategies and budgets for 2021, virtual events will continue to be a huge part of the events industry. In 2021, 55% of event organizers plan to invest more in virtual events.
The rise of holographics, virtual reality, social media live streaming and simulated conference applications have already begun to transform the event industry outside of the convention centre. The evolution in technology also makes it easier for people to join these events [from wherever they're located.]
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in many ways, and the statement holds equally true for the world of communications and public relations. The changes brought on by the pandemic in the way businesses operate, will continue to evolve, making it essential for PR professionals to embrace change in 2021 to survive and thrive.