The 8 most important PR and communications trends for 2021

2020 was a year of rapid change, some of which will stay with us permanently. PR strategies and communication activities underwent almost constant modifications, and the media was completely dominated by COVID-19 - according to the IMM Institute of Media Monitoring, more than 3 million publications appeared on this topic last year, the vast majority of them on online portals. The pandemic has become such a key issue in the context of PR that one of the most important industry competitions, the Golden Clips, already has its own category called 'Covid-19 PR response'. How has it influenced the future of communication activities and what should we pay particular attention to in 2021?

Here are the key trends that will guide PR and wider communication activities this year.

Online meetings are a daily occurrence

2020 has brought meetings into the online space. Among the top 10 most downloaded apps of last year were certainties such as Facebook and Instagram, but also Zoom and Google Meet. Interestingly in this context, the Zoom app overtook Messenger in terms of the number of downloads, coming in a high fifth place in the ranking[1]. We can expect to explore many new ideas and platforms for communicating with customers and employees this year.

Hybrid events - the future of events

In the coming months, work will continue to be done mainly in home office mode and stationary events may not take place - including, of course, industry festivals and galas. The Association of Public Relations Firms has postponed the annual December announcement of the Złote Spinacze competition results and, according to the latest information, the gala will take place at the end of January in an online format. Will it resemble the Effie Awards Poland 2020 gala? We shall see. However, looking at the future of events, we can expect them to be hybrid events that will attract both physical and virtual attendees.

A new dimension in media relations 

Last year, some publishers closed their print editions of selected magazines, while others introduced paid subscriptions to their texts published online. The media are competing with each other on the speed of information and journalists already lack the time to analyse data in detail and translate it into content that readers can understand, which is why they increasingly value high-quality material provided by trusted PR professionals. The need and ability to create unique content (not just texts) will continue to grow. Only good, audience-specific content will cut through the information noise and get the message across to stakeholders. 

Flexibility more important than ever

COVID-19 turned many PR strategies upside down. At the same time, it underlined the importance of flexibility and responsiveness in communication activities. On the one hand, we are talking about communication with employees, who expect clear and smoothly communicated information on how the company is operating in the new reality. On the other hand, we have PR activities aimed at stakeholders, which have to be modified almost all the time. It is difficult to predict anything in an ever-changing reality, but planning and being open to change is an absolute 'must have' for effective communication activities.

Internal communication is improving

The pandemic has forced many companies to review their internal communication strategy. Today, effective communication, transparency and teamwork are more important than ever. In 2021, the importance of internal communication will continue to grow, and according to a KPMG report, already 68% CEOs admitted that their internal communication with employees had improved during the crisis[2].

Credible creators count

Influencer marketing is growing rapidly and all indications are that it will continue to do so. Brands are increasingly looking to influencers to provide content tailored to their customers. Last year showed us that consumers are very interested in who the online influencers they follow are. Not only do they glean knowledge from their profiles, but they also want to know what their favourite influencers are driven by, their political views or their opinions on issues that are important to them. This means that choosing the right creators for campaigns is and will become increasingly important.

Increased focus on CSR activities

Corporate social responsibility activities have become more than just (multi-million dollar) charitable donations. According to the study 'CSR in practice - the barometer of the French-Polish Chamber of Commerce', in 2020, companies directed their activities mainly to their own employees and customers, with one in three companies involved in helping hospitals and nursing homes[3]. This year, CSR will play a key role in terms of recruiting and retaining employees, establishing business relationships and communicating with customers.

The fight against fake news continues

Fake news has become an integral part of media reality. Unfortunately, this is not helped by the fact that conspiracy theories and fake news were also replicated by many brands and influencers last year. This trend will continue to grow in 2021, so confirming the credibility of the content and citing the source should be a priority when sharing information. In this way, many image crises can be avoided.


Author of the text: Ewelina Pulawska