By Parul Yadav
Public Relations has come a long way in the last ten years. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown all plans out of whack. It has impacted everyone, from seasoned professionals moving up in the industry to students with cancelled internships. With the new digital and social media disruptions, shrinking newsrooms and new realities for industry professionals, who could have predicted the way social media would change how we consume information? Everyone around the world is exercising, socializing, working, and doing more online. It’s not just Gen Z and Millennials anymore; it is all of us!
In this breathtakingly challenging time, the way we work and live has changed. For everyone, it’s a new world order. Additionally, with remote work and employee flexibility being prioritized, it will be interesting to see how brands and organizations drive their strategies in 2021 and beyond. Be it entry level professionals in their first few years of careers or highly seasoned veterans, Covid-19 is making these the most formative years in our professional lives. Moreover, in the years to come, it is possible we will look back to the current crisis as the inflection point for several new blueprints in Public Relations.
As the power of technology is shaping our experiences, we are looking up to new Public Relations and communication trends in 2021. When it comes to creating the perfect customer experience, it’s never too early to start preparing for the future. This article shares three powerful trends to help you rise above the noise and get heard by those that matter to your business.
Trend 1: Digital Communication Will Take Center Stage
Your website and social channels are now the front door to your brand or business. Going forward, PR will be more tech-driven than ever. Stakeholders’ relationship with technology will deepen as more people will stick to digital connections for their work, education, commercial transactions and social interactions as done now in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic.
Businesses should be investing in e-commerce, virtual events, online channels and content creation. They are the ways consumers and other stakeholders are discovering and engaging with brands and businesses today.
The pandemic has sped up digital transformation in many business sectors already. Remote management and operations will be vital for businesses emerging from Covid-19 in 2021. Internally and externally focused campaigns will be applicable to brand marketing, corporate communication and in turn increase awareness for digital security, artificial intelligence and automation of some stakeholders’ touch points.
As more consumers spend their time online, the demand for spontaneous content will give rise to a purpose-driven digital ecosystem. Moreover, using Apps for the latest news, monitoring media outlets for latest trends, media releases and announcements can always serve as a great asset. Once you have figured out your newsworthy angle, you can easily distribute your contents to media publications that are relevant to your industry. This ensures your communication is specifically targeted to those who want, need, or care about the information.
Studies by some consulting firms have revealed that digital transformation will even be a more important topic after the pandemic. The world is likely to invest more in emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in the upcoming years. If you want to take advantage of these new developments, start at these early stages. Integrate different disciplines and platforms in a way that engender more control over your branding and Public Relations efforts. Learning more about digitization can help you make better decisions about your digital transformation investments.
Trend 2: PR Will Be More Purpose-Driven
Today, PR is far more accessible and its value is understood and utilized by a broader spectrum of the society. In 2021 and beyond, PR professionals will have to guide organizations to exhibit authenticity, communicate their values and demonstrate how they add to the advancement of society.
2020 brought with it norm-shattering situations. The pandemic awakened our consciousness to the fact that businesses need to do more to stabilize the world. Stakeholders are now calling out companies to lend a hand in solving global problems, including that of Covid-19. They expect businesses to focus more on people and the welfare of society.
Fortunately, the ever-expanding technological world presents more opportunities for people to consume content. As PR and communication professionals, our goal will be to emphasize organizational purpose, environment, social and governance (ESG) factors in our communications with stakeholders. That means we will have to create and distribute contents that demonstrate what our organizations stand for, how they care for the planet and what they are doing to advance society.
Trend 3: Influencer Culture Will Drive Social Platforms
Influencer culture has not gone away. As several studies have shown, online consumers and other stakeholders trust the opinions of influencers more than anyone else. In a Covid-19 world, people are looking up to influencers and leaders they trust to navigate them through the challenging times. Brands are working more with micro-influencers and targeted platforms than ever before. Today, it is more than important for PR professionals to identify authentic voices to carry their messages.
Social media will continue to grow in 2021 and beyond. News consumption from Twitter, Instagram and other social networks is likely to increase. There are reports that Instagram has seen a 40 percent increase in users since the advent of this pandemic. With the addition of Reels and Live Rooms, influencers are able to reach a wider audience and go viral.
Anyone who is following influencer culture is aware of how its growth is accelerating worldwide at this time. It’s a sure bet it will continue on that path. By this time next year, fresh names will hit new milestones. Perhaps, it is time to invest in social media policies, liven up you your Instagram presence and set some hours aside to engage in Twitter chats. By creating a sense of consistency, cleaning up content on your website, refreshing your Search engine optimization (SEO), keywords and tags, you will suddenly have what is called a ‘social media campaign’. Your business will create its own vibes and your choice of influencers will showcase your transparency and authenticity.
The past year taught us lots of lessons on how best to work in turbulent times. No one is sure what the years ahead have in store for us. The only thing that is certain is uncertainty itself. Brands that can adapt to these PR trends may be the only ones to coast through the uncertainties that post-Covid-19 environment will bring and still remain strong.
Parul Yadav is the Public Relations and Social Media Director at PORTEIRO App.