PR Trends 2021 – The New Normal: Is there PR after a pandemic?

Our lives, especially our work place has completely changed since the pandemic has hit us. Beyond the personal loss which many of us have faced in our industry, another question that most of us think about in these chaotic times are, what will the future of the communications industry be like? What are the trends we need to be mindful of?

When I read about this session in the programme line-up of AMEC Virtual Global Summit of Measurement on Communication Accountability: planning, purpose and proof by Lilia Glazova, CEO, PR News, I was very keen to attend and understand the trends and the findings. I must say, I am quite delighted with the research and while I anticipated the findings, what’s interesting is the aspect that Lilia has defined in the outcomes. I have summarised the talk by Lilia for anyone who is interested in reading what the future trends could look like and skills that one can apply in their professional life.

To predict the future, Lilia talks about three trend spotting methods in the presentation: The Haystack Method, Foresight and Content Analysis. Content Analysis is the method Lilia and her team have used to analyse the industry trends. Around 321 experts’ opinions were considered spanning across 40 countries and 10 trends were identified, collated and analysed.

Her expectation from the research – What would the clients want in the future, what services will be popular? What trends can one foresee? What products can be offered to the clients?

Quick snapshot on the trends and way forward

Top 10 trends identified:

  1. Digitalisation
  2. Ethics
  3. Effective content
  4. Emotions
  5. Crisis PR
  6. Personalisation
  7. Research
  8. Partnership
  9. Integrated communication
  10. Influencers

No doubt, Digitalisation tops the list (thanks to the pandemic) across all the continents. West Asia’s top priority is digitalisation and ethics. Research features in top three in Australia and New Zealand region while in Africa, Crisis PR and Influencers feature in top three.

Some of the key aspects of the trends that were shared in the presentation

Digitalisation – Go Online or Go Dead 

Essential to survival

Digital is the most essential tool for our survival and the pandemic has made us realise it more than ever. It’s just not about digital transformation or being just active on social media but about being there when the world was forced to move to that platform. Case in point- restaurants who were online survived better than those who were just present offline with no digital footprint.

AI, VR, AR

Are the future but very few are ready for it or many have not understood the importance of the same. We as PR professionals need to follow these trends and make the most of these new technologies as tools.

Universal Soldier

PR professionals needs to master the art of digital marketing as well as press release distribution. As a communication specialist one needs to possess all kinds of critical skills to stay relevant and meet the needs of the digital age, like acquiring expertise on technology, automation, big data analysis etc.

Ethics

Lilia throws some interesting insights on ethics. It’s not just about how companies act themselves to be ethical and more socially responsible to the audience but also about personal communication, communication about people to the company and what the audience expect from the company. Lilia touched upon three aspects here- Humane attitude, helping others and care and concern all revolving around how you choose to communicate with the audience especially at the times of fear or stress, using the right words and tone while communicating something sensitive which needs to be with honesty, sincerity and compassion.

Effective Content

With information overload, consumers prefer effective content to read or spend their time on. They need to see value when consuming your content. In 2020, demand for interesting content to learn via Online Learning lead the pack, followed by Video interaction, using personalised communication with Chatbots and assistants to maintain constant contact with audiences and a newly launched audio format for social networking Clubhouse.

In a nutshell,

  • There was enormous pressure on PR professionals in 2020 owing to the challenges faced for survival
  • Global shift in consumer behaviour and habits due to the economic crisis caused by the pandemic
  • Adjustments in PR tools and communication formats to ensure control in cost and good quality content
  • Industry needs to be ready for digital shift
  • Ethics and emotions are emerging as pillars of future communications as well as audience loyalty and attention

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarika Chavan
Sarika Chavan is a public relations professional with over 15 years of work experience . She is currently working at Adfactors PR.

Previously she was employed at Text100 (now Archetype) and Perfect Relations. With keen observation and analytical skills, Sarika has successfully led PR campaigns for key brands across multiple sectors by leveraging her strength and expertise in the communications arena.

She is a post graduate in communications from Xavier Institute of Communications. She is based in Mumbai and in her free time loves to spend time with her daughters, play with her dogs, read and travel.

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