A solid communications and PR strategy has proved essential for businesses over the last several months, to engage and reassure staff, customers and stakeholders. People have used this opportunity to review their current comms and learn how well they are able to respond in an emergency.
It’s difficult to predict what will happen as we go into 2021, but having communication plans in place, across a variety of channels and scenarios, will be necessary to not only stay afloat but move forward in a stronger position.
Here are some of the trends PR Agency Polymedia PR expect to inform your PR strategy in the new year and beyond:
Changing working practices
It’s not certain whether this period of home working will continue after lockdown ends, but it is likely that some kind of flexible working will be the norm in 2021.
A sound PR strategy will be necessary to help staff adapt to this changing landscape and, in turn, communicate with customers about the ways their services can be of benefit.
Businesses have found engaging effectively with consumers at a time like this requires a new approach and this is where content marketing can help. Thought leadership blogs, newsletters, emails and more deliver tremendous value for marketing and are highly effective in regularly reminding customers and internal teams of what your business is doing to support them.
Blog posts can be used on social media and leveraged for customer or partner communications. If your PR strategy doesn’t involve some kind of content marketing, you should think about implementing this as soon as possible.
Develop your Branding as part of your PR Strategy
Even if your business has been forced to close or budgets aren’t at the levels you are used to, you can still protect your brand during this crisis and plan for recovery into next year.
Think of how you can turn your interactions with employees, customers and the community into positive messages about your brand. Keeping up communication with your customers is important, and you’ll want to make sure you don’t break their trust.
In times of uncertainty, and we don’t know what 2021 will look like, developing your branding is a smart PR strategy. Branding should focus on setting clear and defined goals; creating consistently targeted messaging; and building connections with your audience.
Health and safety
During the first lockdown and shift to home working, lots of businesses focused on PR activities to support the wellbeing of staff and customers. Continue to communicate how you are prioritising their health and safety going forward, particularly the practices you’ve put in place to prevent contamination as you welcome back employees and customers.
To maximise the impact of your PR strategy, focus on your key messages. If the goal of your communication is to let customers know how your business is supporting them through Covid-19, be transparent and clear as to how you’re doing that.
With customers at home and online more than usual, there is an opportunity for businesses to use technology in a way that leads to better communication and engagement. Use tech to connect with target audiences and offer the best customer experience possible – this could be through your website or via an ad.
Virtual events boomed in 2020 and will continue to do so in the new year. The advice to stay home is likely still going to be upon us for a while and because of this, virtual events and video conferencing are a way of keeping your audience and teams engaged and connected when unable to meet in person. Cooking classes, webinars and virtual tours are all smart virtual additions to next year’s PR Strategy.
The idea of effective crisis management for many organisations has always been seen as a tick box exercise, until now, when a lot of businesses had to rise to the challenge quickly. Many of us have learnt that a cool head helps but a frequently updated crisis plan is even better.
Businesses from all industries have been shocked into taking crisis communications seriously and this will become a more mainstream requirement and clear focus for any PR strategy from now on.
Now more than ever, this is the time to review and consider outsourcing to a PR services agency who can refresh your content and messaging to stay engaged with your stakeholders. While the current situation is changing, people will still need reassurance, clarity and guidance about the services you provide, so you should be asking if your PR strategy is fit for purpose and look at it again in the new year.