No one predicted the abrupt disruption 2020 would bring when they delivered their annual predictions a year ago. That’s not stopping anyone from issuing 2021 predictions for PR and marketing.
These are the top 2021 predictions for PR and marketing.
More consumers, particularly young adults, want brands to show a sense of social responsibility. Observers point to the Black Lives Matter movement and despondency caused by Covid-19. More than a few communications experts predict that social responsibility will become essential for attracting customers, recruiting talent, and satisfying shareowners.
“2020 will be defined by the word ‘humanity’—its power, its fragility, its necessity,” change communication expert Annique Simpson told Ragan Communications. “Communicators will need to continue to explore the behavioral sciences — such as psychology, behavioral economics, sociology — to ensure our strategies and messages remain as humane as possible in 2021 and beyond.”
Social media offers a crucial tool for demonstrating the brand’s social consciousness.
“Because social media acts as a medium for brands to directly engage with their consumers, people are seeking out brands they can trust more frequently, so being transparent will help your brand gain the trust of more users,” comments Evanne Farmer at 3 Girls Media Inc.
To show transparency on social media, Farmer advises, brands can:
- Engage with users and answer all questions.
- Openly admit mistakes.
- Show behind-the-scenes brand activities.
- Give credit to others when due.
Multimedia content represents the future of media relations. Videos, photos, infographics, and audio clips help PR pros win the attention of journalists and audiences to promote corporate and brand messages. It’s critical for communications pros to consider how their content looks and sounds. Some recommend creating the content first, then letting the asset dictate the distribution channels.
“Public relations is moving toward the production of visual content to convey a message,” says Madison Hausauer at the Flint Group. “With millennials as the biggest demographic, integrated and flexible campaigns – in the forms of GIFs, infographics, and videos – are accessible and easily digestible.”
Video may be the most popular and powerful form of multimedia content. While some videos work best to attract new leads, others, such as product videos and testimonials, encourage customers at the end of the sales funnel to complete purchases, writes Victor Blasco, founder and CEO of Yum Yum Videos. Think strategically when choosing the type of video to create in order to match the video to the customer’s stage in the buyer’s journey.
Showing real stories behind your brand, as told by the people that work in your company, can boost consumer trust in your brand, Blasco adds. Company story videos, or “About Us” videos, manage to do this in a way that’s engaging and emotionally moving.
“These videos show the human side of your company,” writes Blasco. “They’re directed at customers, and sometimes prospective employees, to form a deeper connection with them and your brand.”
Technology allows organizations to send their PR messages directly to their key audiences, as opposed to trying to convince news outlets to relay the messages, Hausauer points out. By speaking honestly to their stakeholders, organizations create transparency and develop trust. Rather than pursuing expensive, national campaigns, savvy brands target certain buyer personas through owned media.
Tools such as Facebook Live allow organizations to act as their own media outlet. By leveraging such nontraditional mediums rather than relying on traditional approaches like press releases and media pitches, brands can control the message and interactions with audiences.
Companies can turn to web analytics and social media analytics to personalize content. “While data and advanced analytics play a crucial role in understanding shopper behavior, qualitative listening tools are also critical, states an earlier report, What Shoppers Really Want from Personalized Marketing from McKinsey & Company. “Regular engagement with an ongoing shopper panel, for example, and ethnographic research and observation can offer valuable, in-depth, attitudinal feedback on the impact of personalized communications.”
Analytics allows PR pros to manage an organization’s reputation and measure efforts. Monitoring media coverage for trends, reach and sentiment remains necessary, Hausauer says. Finding correlation between your public relations efforts and an increase in your website traffic via Google Analytics can also show successes and areas of improvement.
Bottom Line: Communications professionals predict that 2021 will see greater emphasis on promoting corporate social consciousness, multimedia content, and personalizing messages to consumers.
Michael Kling is manager of public relations, marketing and social media at Glean.info, a media monitoring and measurement service that provides customized media monitoring and PR analytics solutions.