Trends within the public relations industry are changing more rapidly than ever. PR firms have been under tremendous pressure these past few months as the public is demanding more from organizations than it ever has.
So what should we expect for the rest of 2021? What ideas should companies focus on when it comes to public relations trends?
Understandably, the idea of predicting a set of tendencies and trends can seem laughable after 2020. However, the public relations and communications industries are adaptable and flexible, able to adapt to change faster than many would think conceivable. Listed below are six trends that have already begun floating to the top of everyone’s list.
1. Inclusion, equity, and diversity will take center stage for some time to come.
Organizations will need to reflect the diversity we see in the everyday world. Issues of equity for women, people of color, and those who identify as LGBTQIA+ will take center stage across all industries. In the following months, the focus for brands and their PR specialists should be about making progress in the right direction.
Companies will need an actionable plan to make progress with diversity internally if they want to remain relevant for their audiences. The brands that neglect this issue will most likely experience various PR problems.
Companies that lack a clear messaging and policy around inclusion and diversity are at risk of falling behind their competitors and experience negative publicity to their reputation. The call to put diversity, equity, and inclusion in the center stage of any organization isn’t just a reaction to the tensions from 2020 but a need highlighted by data. Statistics show that racially diverse executive teams have 35% higher earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT). Businesses that embrace diversity have a 19% higher revenue.
2. Internal communications are of crucial importance.
Thus far, 2021 also brings plenty of news, both good and bad. The bad news is that organizations have to deal with the same problems they did in 2020. The pandemic is still a harsh reality. However, the good news is that organizations now have more knowledge and training as to how to handle them. Uncertainty will persist for a long time. Brands will need to:
- build positive energy amongst their employees working from home;
- improve communication regarding the state of the business;
- offer investors timely communication that provides value; and
- enhance productivity with the help of internal communication.
Internal communication plays a significant role in boosting employee and stakeholder morale. Employees expect to get authentic and clear communication from the organization’s leaders.
3. Organizations will need to get involved on social.
Research shows that social media engagement with content has reached 88% since 2016, and most prominently during the past year when it registered a spike of 42%.
During the quarantine, people relied on three screens: the work screen, the big screen, and the little screen. It’s not surprising the people have been glued to their digital devices during lockdowns when meeting up in real life was prohibited. A survey reveals that the number of people working permanently from home will double during 2021.
It’s essential for PR and communications agencies to meet people where they are, and that place is online.
Leveraging the blog section and social media profiles is vital as they encourage a continuous conversation with the public in the following months. Companies need to use social media to address the issues that affect the world. They need to provide their expertise and knowledge freely to their audience. It’s essential to publicly pitch into all relevant problems they experience. We’ll need to address news items openly and honestly to gain the public’s trust. Customers respect and trust brands more when they associate them with a high level of transparency.
4. PR and marketing departments must work together.
PR and marketing have different functions, but experts recommend joining the two departments before starting a promotional campaign. That way, specialists from both sectors can share their knowledge and expertise in a streamlined way and achieve better results.
When both departments support the same idea from the start of a project — as opposed to contradicting and reworking every aspect when they meet — it’s much easier for brands to achieve their goals. The post-pandemic period requires innovative ideas as the public has new preferences and needs. The best way to develop a creative advertising and marketing strategy is to join forces.
5. Organizations will experience an urgency to innovate.
Most brands feel they lost a year in their progress due to the pandemic. People spent an entire year in isolation. They were afraid that a second wave might hit and cause even more damage. Organizations have come to understand that what they initially classified as a short-term problem has become a “new normal” framework.
In 2021, we’ll watch as public relations teams try to make up for lost time (and revenue). Brands will focus more aggressively on accomplishing the goals they had to postpone due to our enforced, socially distanced environment. Summer has already seen some innovative events being developed in the public relations sector.
6. Brands must understand that this is the ideal moment to speak from the heart.
It’s unsurprising that the public wants the brands they buy to speak to them from the heart. People have always craved stories and supported brands that talk honestly to their communities and share in their ideas, struggles, and achievements. Authenticity is simultaneously the most desired and tricky of public relations trends.
The pandemic rocked the foundations of the world as people knew it. Now they want to hear about how organizations are planning to move forward. 2021 will prove to be a pivotal year for starting a new era of reconstruction. Pathos is the strongest driving force in marketing because people always crave a human connection with their organizations. In 2021, personal and relatable content will be the most effective form of PR. Companies should collaborate with talented content creators that can tell human stories for them and create the image of brands that value clients.
With millions of people unemployed and millions unable to work, organizations need to communicate with their clients on a human-to-human level. Before creating a PR strategy, organizations need to ask if their content relates to their public’s complexities, emotions, and psyches. Of all of the public relations trends rising to the top, brands simply must take a more consumer-centric approach in their communication efforts.