Public relations (PR) has always needed to be nimble to adapt to the ever-changing business landscape and its audience. As such, PR strategies are constantly evolving– and 2021 will see the beginning of a new era of communication.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, businesses were forced to find new ways to operate, transform, and communicate with their customers effectively. Against this uncertain backdrop, it is crucial that companies not only pivot their communication strategies to continue growing but also find a way to adapt to the new trends and stay relevant during times of change.
Here are five trends that you, as a business, need to be mindful of:
With social restrictions presented by COVID-19, events are at a minimum, and in some instances, non-existent. Globally and regionally, businesses have had to adjust the way they sell to consumers during these challenging times. In the new reality, daily screen time has seen a massive jump to up to 10 hours a day one spending online browsing through the content.
Companies need to keep their presence top of mind, and the most effective way to do that is by reaching customers where they are right now: online. This means that PR (online PR/ digital PR), content marketing, social media, digital, and SEO are more intertwined than ever before.
PR professionals need to be able to offer clients a blended strategy focused on brand awareness and reputation building, as well as a bespoke SEO support to help increase search visibility. Online PR can help brands boost their online presence, inform, and more importantly, educate customers, as well as positively position the brand as a leader in their sector, generating quality backlinks and relevant leads to a website.
The pandemic has disrupted consumer behaviour and spend. Marketing professionals will need to reassess their understanding of their customers (brand persona) through user testing and surveys to gauge whether changes in behaviour are temporary or permanent.
To be truly successful, digital techniques must be integrated with more traditional tactics such as print, broadcast, and email marketing as part of multichannel marketing communications. Incorporation of the key words into marketing content can also help boost brand’s visibility in relevant customer search results.
TREND 2: 2021 IS THE YEAR FOR MORE CONTENT
According to Zazzle Media, as many as 96% of marketers stated that content marketing has been successful for brand awareness, demand, and revenue, when done right.
The consumer market is flooded with different types of content daily. An average person sees up to 10,000 ads each day, which will make value-driven content rise to the top. Customers will become selective on the content they read and the channels they use. Email marketing, followed by organic social content, will grow in popularity, making this an essential element of the marketing mix, to drive profits.
In 2021, we can expect savvy marketers to continue embracing creative ways of connecting with consumers to build awareness and drive demand through online thought leadership and digital insights in their campaigns.
Related: Engagement Drivers: Five Digital Trends Businesses Should Tap Into In 2021
TREND 3: THE CEO WILL NEED TO BE IN THE FRONTLINE
The modern CEO will need to be actively involved in strategic communication with its customers. People love to connect with people. Leadership visibility and executive positioning can build credibility.
The market place is incredibly crowded today. Stakeholders are not always easy to convince. However, the right visibility communication strategy can place the executive leadership team in the public eye in a positive way, humanize the company as a whole and build credibility, which will ultimately help in achieving business goals.
As COVID-19 continues to create uncertainty and concern for businesses, the need for a more human and more purposeful conversation has never been more important. This year and beyond will see CEO in the front-line addressing issues and opportunities across an ever-growing list of digital channels.
TREND 4: VIRTUAL EVENTS ARE HERE TO STAY
Virtual events started out of necessity in 2020, but are here to stay because of their return on investment and accessibility.
The introduction of virtual events has opened doors to an entire new audience group, making it more accessible than in-person events. 80% of people join virtual events for educational purposes, which serves as a great platform for businesses to share industry insights and gain the position of an expert leader in the industry.
Even before the pandemic began, events started moving towards a hybrid structure. One-sided and passive webinars have created online fatigue, and the most successful platforms focus on engagement and user interaction through features like video, breakout rooms, polls, roundtables, online networking are getting popularity. The key to creating a successful virtual event is to get creative and drive engagement through rich content.
Social media has had a significant impact on how businesses find and communicate with their audiences. With more than 3.5 billion people on social media daily, it's not surprising that 73% of marketers agree that social media is somewhat or very effective in their business strategy, and about 54% of customers use social to research products.
Social commerce has become a new retail avenue for brands, and this trend is only going to get stronger. Online platforms like Facebook and Instagram have made it easy for consumers to start their buying journey from discovery to purchase, without having to leave the platform they are on. For the B2B sector, LinkedIn and Twitter would be the must-go platforms for the right brand visibility. Brands that use social media effectively can build long-term relationships with consumers while creating brand loyalty.
2020 was a memorable year for the public relations industry with drastic changes in the way we communicate. More lessons were learned in a 12-month period that has signalled trends in the way business communicate, sell, and operate, making it essential for PR professionals to embrace the changes in 2021.
Related: Four Lessons Brands Should Learn From The Accelerated Digital Revolution That Happened In 2020