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Published June 10th 2021

7 PR Trends in 2021: The Story So Far

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What are we looking at for the rest of the year? What ideas should we be focused on for the second half of 2021?

We know, the idea of anything being definite or predictable seems laughable after the last year we had. 

But if I do believe one thing, it’s that we are adaptable. In fact, a lot of us changed everything faster than we thought was even conceivable.

So, what are the top PR trends for the H2 of 2021?

PR trend #1: Continued calls for progress in diversity, equity, and inclusion

Our workforces need to reflect the same diversity we see in our everyday worlds. The problems with equity for people of color, women and LGBTQIA+ took centerstage in 2020.

In 2021, the focus for businesses and their PR teams is all about making strides in the right direction.

This means having an actionable plan to make progress with diversity internally, if they want to be relevant and authentic. For organizations that continue to ignore the issue at hand, PR problems are likely on the horizon.

Without a clear policy and messaging around diversity and inclusion, you not only run the risk of falling behind your competitors, but you also face the risk of negative publicity and catastrophic damage to your reputation.

These calls for Progress in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion aren’t just a reaction to the racial tensions highlighted in 2020 across the globe, they are backed by data. Just take a look at these stats:

  • Racially diverse executive teams provided an advantage of:
  • 35% higher EBIT
  • 33% more long-term value creation over the least racially diverse companies
  • Diverse companies attain 19% higher revenue than monolithic companies on account of greater innovation

A diverse team is a successful team - there’s no time for excuses.

McKinsey & Company has put together this collection of diversity and inclusion insights. They’ve done an incredible job of highlighting the problems that companies face when addressing all kinds of equality and also solutions for these.

PR trend #2: Internal comms takes center stage

This year we've had good news and bad news.

-Bad news: Many of the same problems we faced in 2020 as a result of the pandemic are still here.

-Good news: You have way more insight about this brave new world than you did in March 2020.

As uncertainty persists, companies will continue to ask for support with:

  •  Communications around the state of your business
  • Facilitating productivity through internal comms
  • Building positive energy amongst remote employees
  • Providing stakeholders with timely communications that creates value

Internal messaging, now more than ever, plays a key role in employee (and stakeholder) morale. Your various audiences - employees and customers included - will expect to hear clear and authentic communications from company leaders on a regular basis.

Staffbase understand the importance of internal communications and have put together this article to help companies of all sizes to improve their workforce.

Showcasing the effects that the pandemic has had on the work of comms and gives real life examples of internal communication that have been successful for other companies.

These methods will help you bring your team back together and become stronger after a difficult time distanced and disconnected.

PR trend #3: Brands getting involved on social

Data from BuzzSumo's index of 8bn articles, shows that social media engagement surrounding content has risen by 88% since 2016 – and most prominently between the years of 2020 – 2021, with an uplift of 42%.

Quarantine entertainment has (mostly) been summed up by three screens.

  • The big screen
  • The work screen
  • The little screen

People have been glued to their devices more than ever before because, well, what else is there to do?

Even though we’re increasingly meeting IRL, there has been an almost irreversible shift in the way we work and interact.

In fact, the percentage of people permanently working from home is expected to double in 2021, according to a survey from Enterprise Technology Research (ETR).

You need to meet people where they are, and where they are is online.

Leveraging your social media channels as well as your blog will continue to be an important move well into the future.

These two platforms allow you to have a continual conversation with your audiences, which in turn allows you to build brand trust.

But beware not to sound tone deaf to the larger issues in the world.

Instead, use your social media and blogs to address what’s happening in the world and think of what knowledge or expertise you have as an organization that could be helpful for your audience at this unprecedented moment in history.

In the same vein, it’s important to publicly address all relevant and ongoing issues you may be facing as a brand because of the coronavirus outbreak or any other external problems. Whether that’s layoffs, order cancellations, or something else entirely, address all news honestly and openly.

Customers will trust and respect you more for it and your brand will be associated with sincere transparency.

Sprout Social’s #BrandsGetReal series has looked at data around what customers look for and value in brands they choose to associate themselves with.

This has consistently shown that having an active participation in social issues is important to 70% of customers.

PR trend #4: Training for the platform

Pivot was the word of 2020, and perhaps the biggest pivot of them all was the transition to virtual events.

I’m sure we were all on one too many Zoom calls with dropped signals, failures to mute or a lengthy attempt at a screen share. 

This Ultimate Guide to Giving Virtual Presentations on Zoom from Oli Gardner has wowed the marketing industry – including major influencers like Rand Fishkin and Brian Dean.

Pay close attention to these tips for your next pitch, webinar, or virtual event.

For PR professionals, it’s important that these types of issues are non-existent at virtual events. That means lots of training for the virtual platform.

Successful media interactions rely on seamless user experience.

Send reporters advance instructions on how to use the event tech and make sure that spokespeople are coached beforehand and prepared to present on camera.

PR trend #5: Marketing & PR unite

Marketing and PR definitely serve different functions, however, organizations are increasingly recommending that the two teams join forces from the very beginning of a campaign.

This way, both departments can share their expertise in a more streamlined fashion.

If both departments back the same vision from the start of a campaign, as opposed to reworking the same campaign over and over again, it’ll be easier to achieve your shared goals.

Still need some convincing? Check out this article by Lewis Schenk to understand some of the main reasons why PR needs to be part of your marketing strategy.

PR trend #6: An urgency to innovate and make up for lost time

In a lot of ways, it feels like we lost 2020.

An entire year was largely spent in isolation or fear of an impending second wave. We now know that what initially seemed to be a short term problem is now the “new normal.”

In 2021 we’ve been seeing a lot of public relations teams trying to make up for lost time.

Companies need to focus aggressively on how they can accomplish this in a still-socially-distanced environment.

While we don’t have all the answers here yet, expect some innovative new events or PR pushes throughout the year.

A great example of innovative PR that we have seen this year is Heineken’s Stadium In A Box campaign.

Bringing the stadium to people’s homes by giving customers the chance to win an authentic stadium dugout chair that has been rebranded.

They understand not only what their customers want but also what Uefa Euro fans will see value in.

PR trend #7: Speaking from the heart

This isn’t new but it rings especially true throughout 2021.

People are craving human stories from human brands about community and support.

COVID-19 has rocked the foundations of our world and now, more than ever, your audience wants to hear about how you are going to move forward.

Pathos has long been the driving force behind the strongest marketing techniques because consumers will always crave human connection.

Relatable and personal content is the most effective form of PR.

Focus on investing in talented writers. When you can build a brand that values human stories, the sky becomes the only limit.

Check out this insightful article around the importance of authenticity in social media today from our friends at Falcon.io.

Keeping up with the trends is half the battle, trendjacking will ensure you're making those trends work for you.

Get your free 30-day trial of BuzzSumo to capitalize on 2021 PR trends here.

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