By Emma Poleszuk and Taylor Burke
So much has happened in 2021 – where to begin? From Biden taking office in the U.S. to the Olympics in Tokyo to new climate change realities realised at COP26 – all while navigating our new world with COVID-19. For consumers, a lot has happened too. We’ve been through lockdowns, outdoor dining (we still feel cold thinking about this) and have changed the way we look at the world and the way we connect with brands and companies. Our priorities have been forever changed – we’re looking for a sense of purpose and meaning in what we do and purchase.
For companies looking to navigate the ever changing world of consumer PR, here are a few predictions of what will happen in the landscape next year and how PR practitioners can prepare:
- Media need to reflect our worlds more than ever before – It’s looking likely the habits formed over the past 18-21 months could be here to stay, from spending more time at home and prioritising time with loved ones to new hobbies and shopping online. With these changing priorities comes a need for media and brands to reflect on what matters to their audiences and adapt their marketing strategies and plans accordingly. Whether this is through continuing to prioritise mental health and wellness content across social channels or reflecting on ever-changing travel rules and preferences by working with editors on regular staycation content, instead of the big “blow out” two-week holiday abroad of yesteryear, it’s important that new ways of living and working are recognised and reflected.
- Editors will appreciate flexibility – COVID-19 has impacted the future of the workplace for most industries, journalism being no exception. Editors will likely continue a flexible work schedule where they split time between the office and home. With that, publicists will need to continue to be sensitive towards journalists’ schedules when it comes to events and deliveries. Specifically, continuing to offer virtual event options will be important to optimise event attendance for those working remotely.
- There will be a new emphasis on single integrated communication plans – As a result of the changing media landscape and the evolution of algorithms on social platforms, we are seeing an increasing demand for single integrated communications plans with earned, shared and paid elements working successfully together to deliver a direct, measurable return on investment. This will continue to be a very exciting development in 2022.
- Brand purpose continues to be key – Goodwill has been at the forefront of consumers’ hearts, and the executives that bake this into marketing and communication strategies are most likely to get the interest of consumers. Don’t be afraid to be bold, and share how your company is making a difference not only for individual consumers, but the world at large – this will promote overall company awareness, and drive an increase in recruitment (people are keener than ever to try new job opportunities). And finally, so many of us have been cooped up and are itching to get back out there – so presenting at industry conferences and consumer gatherings goes a long way!
Whilst it’s fair to say we’re not quite out of the woods yet when it comes to the pandemic and the ways in which it influences our world, remaining flexible and open to new ways of how we are working and living is key as we go into 2022. Working with your PR and marketing teams to plan ahead and ensure you’re putting your best foot forward when it comes to an integrated and well thought out approach is still an important part of the process, but remaining agile and ensuring there’s room to pivot and switch gears as needed is critical.
Emma Poleszuk is a Senior Account Director and Taylor Burke is an Account Director in our UK offices.