As we enter 2021, the world at large and corporate communications teams, in particular, find themselves at a significant turning point. What will be the “new normal?”
Whether corporate communications is an opportunity area for your company or you are a Public Relations (PR) practitioner, there are several new ways for you to up your company’s game in the year to come.
Here are my predictions for what to expect in 2021 and how to capitalize on the changes taking place:
Corporate reputation as a key success metric
During this era of disruption and uncertainty, corporate values and brand activism have become more important than ever. PR will be expected to shift the focus toward values-based communications, that reflect Environmental, Society, & Governance (ESG) considerations and cover the prevalent topic of health and safety. Corporate reputation will start taking center stage as a key success metric and will need to be measured.
Increased focus on internal communications
As companies transition to the “new normal,” remote work is here to stay and everything we do will become increasingly digital. Keeping this remote workforce engaged is a new challenge, which will require unprecedented involvement by corporate communications. Flexibility, clear communications and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiatives will become mission-critical.
Livestream gone mainstream
2020 proved that virtual events can result in online connection and collaboration that is just as effective as it’s traditionally been in person. As companies continue to capitalize on the power of livestream, there will be a lot of room for creativity and innovation around employee and customer communications, including hybrid events and programs for both virtual and physical participants.
PR and content marketing fusion
Content marketing is a proven way to break through the noise, as long as the content is highly visible. That’s why content marketing needs PR. While it will continue to grow as a high-leverage tool for both PR and marketing teams, who is in charge of content marketing is up for grabs at many companies. One thing is clear: PR and content marketing together are a powerful duo, allowing brands to put the right stories into the hands of the right journalists, influencers and bloggers.
New level of data-driven communications
In an era of spending conservatism, ensuring that a brand remains relevant while achieving its business goals will necessitate a new level of data-driven communications. PR measurement that identifies the most impactful content and optimizes content quality will grow in importance, and more advanced analytics tools will help determine strategic investment decisions. A new metric, share-of-search, will build momentum as a way of measuring PR effectiveness and tying PR to market share.
Emphasis on message resonance
Marketing and communications teams will focus more on messaging resonance with the public and press for both their brand and competitors. Using data to evaluate which messages worked and didn’t work will become prevalent among communications pros. This specificity will help savvy PR teams to drive more awareness, interest, desired actions and market differentiation.
Growth of in-house PR
And for my final prediction: When it comes to communications, no one can understand the company culture and products better than the people actually working in the organization. There is also something to be said about real-time response and the ability to focus entirely on the company’s own internal needs. As better technologies make it more practical and the realities of managing communications across marketing, PR and social teams require tighter integration, companies will continue to take more PR activities in-house.