2020 was a culturally and politically turbulent year even without considering the global pandemic. Industries around the globe, including PR and communications were forced to rapidly adapt to a ‘new normal.’
Although 2020 brought disruption, it also brought opportunity for change. And while the disruptions are likely to continue in 2021, there is still the chance to continue to transform and revitalise PR and communications strategies. As we start a new year, we are reflecting on the changes we have witnessed in the industry, and what 2021 will bring for the PR industry:
Communication will continue to be key
When the crisis first hit, pre-COVID comms plans and collateral were quickly put-on hold to avoid landing in hot water by appearing insensitive to the current climate. As businesses established how best to address the circumstances, many soon realised the importance of communication. Communicating to employees, customers, and prospects on how they were managing the situation and putting all stakeholders at the forefront of their response to the crisis of a generation.
Since then, we have seen businesses adapting their collateral to demonstrate how they are helping their people get through the crisis, but circumstances have changed so rapidly that it has been almost impossible to predict what is next. As such, agile and flexible content and messaging has shifted from a nice to have, to a necessity for any business. It may be impossible to predict what 2021 will bring, but adaptable messaging is crucial to stay on top of the ever-changing media landscape and prevent lasting reputational damage. The increased importance of constant communication means businesses will turn to third-party professionals who can assist in creating earned media coverage, internal case studies as well as shared and owned media content.
Businesses will focus on purpose
A global pandemic, social injustice and the ongoing climate crisis made 2020 one of, if not the most turbulent years of our generation. In return, corporations have become more vocal about their purpose and positioning. Some companies are now stepping up to put social responsibility, even ahead of profit. A company’s purpose will be an important aspect in prospective partnerships or purchasing decisions more than ever before in 2021. 86% of B2B companies recognise purpose as important to growth but admit they are still working out how to implement their purpose so that it influences business and social outcomes.
Organisations seek action and evidence that businesses are investing in their purpose and making a difference to the social and environmental challenges the world is currently facing. As demands for action intensify and corporate responsibility becomes increasingly important, businesses will come to grips with their communications and how they can adapt to become a purpose-built enterprise. We anticipate a growing number of organisations will turn to PR experts who can help create messaging on how they can deliver on their promises to reach and engage with multiple stakeholders.
Sales and PR will integrate
Gartner finds that when B2B buyers are considering making a purchase, they spend most of their time independently researching online. Traditionally, this is where earned media coverage would come in to help generate credibility, reach, endorsement, and trust. We often see a disconnect between sales and PR teams over the impact of earned media coverage and how this can help B2B buyers make a purchasing decision. Arming sales teams with these powerful tools may be the final definitive proof needed to convince B2B buyers to invest.
By measuring the impact that press coverage is having on each stage of any purchasing journey, businesses can tailor their content accordingly. Over the next year, we expect to see further integration between PR and sales as businesses understand that earned media plays a vital role in sales cycles.
None could have anticipated the impact 2020 would bring, and the effects that would reverberate around the globe. As we enter a new year, we may not be able to fully predict what will happen, but what we do know is there are many opportunities for companies to strengthen and prioritise PR and communication plans, to adjust to the ‘new normal,’ whatever it looks like.
To learn more about revitalising and transforming your PR and communications plans during 2021, get in touch at: email@example.com
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