How has PR changed in the last year? In so many ways. But what hasn’t, right? People are working from home, brands and businesses are finding that their digital presence is the primary element winning them customers. It’s a different world.
No longer is it about producing just any kind of content, it’s about producing the best content you have to offer to keep up with (or move ahead of) the competition. Products, services, and ideas are all sold virtually now, and digital marketing and virtual representation is now the consumer-facing image brands rely on.
These six PR trends are reshaping how we think in 2021, and PR firms should keep them in mind as they craft a digital marketing strategy.
1. PR content must be culturally relevant
Companies should certainly still focus their PR strategy on staying top-of-mind, but it’s more important nowadays that companies stay relevant. Every piece of PR content needs to tie into the current issues and ethos of culture.
In a nutshell: Don’t be tone-deaf.
“Cancel culture” is certainly a buzzword today, but it applies to PR. Every brand and business needs to be culturally relevant, and that means keeping up with the news and letting culture’s values inform how you choose to portray your company online.
An Ernst & Young survey revealed that consumers are focusing their spending habits on companies that align with their values and contribute to the greater good.
Don’t let your company get left behind in the dust: focus on what you have to offer and how you are contributing to the greater global narrative.
This extends from personal to private choices, from corporations and brands to individual leaders.
2. Personal branding will become a PR strategy
With virtually the entire world connecting digitally, personal branding is even more important because it is the first place that customers, prospects, and colleagues “meet” each other. People want to connect with each other face-to-face, in a pandemic-appropriate way.
Every company leader needs a digital presence, just as much as the business itself. Here’s why: it’s your company’s footprint and it shows the human side of your brand.
To be a digital leader, you need to foster connection online: this means crafting a personal brand that people can interact with, consistently through various platforms online. Thought leadership is critical for the C-suite, and a company will thrive even more when its team of leaders shows up consistently online and offers valuable content to the industry.
3. Branding becomes crucial in public relations
Customers want to know who is behind the brand, especially as interactions continue to be limited to virtual experiences. This means highlighting transparent values, social initiatives, and things that customers are concerned about.
When we work with clients, we find that brand searches go up when we show them how to develop their brand and make it consistent across platforms. Public relations, in 2021, are less about sending out a set of press releases. PR strategy now requires an all-encompassing portrait of a company, from social media marketing initiatives to traditional public relations plans.
Branding is also crucial for PR because it is a proactive way to prevent any damage to a company’s reputation. As we mentioned earlier, brands are especially susceptible to “cancel culture”. Strong branding can counter this if PR strategies are directed at showing the company’s values, workforce, and unique qualities.
Practically speaking, this helps with communication with media — especially journalists — who will often research companies online in preparation for writing. If your branding is strong across all platforms, and you’re sending a consistent message, the media is more likely to pick it up.
4. More marketing dollars will go to Sponsored Content and B2B Influencer marketing
Think of sponsored content and influencer marketing as “evangelists” for your brand. These B2B influencers will get your product or service in front of the right people. PR strategies in 2021 will focus less on marketing to the masses, and more on marketing to targeted prospects (even if it’s a smaller group).
Customers are making their purchasing decisions based on word-of-mouth practices. PR strategies need to shift to this ideology, and influencer marketing is the best way to do so because influencers are trustworthy to their audiences.
Thought leadership is critical here because it builds brand awareness and forms connections on behalf of your brand or business. Even if the thought leader isn’t on the staff of your company, connecting with a thought leader in your industry — and implementing an influencer marketing strategy — will increase brand awareness and augment your brand’s trustworthiness.
5. Successful PR is more than media relations
In 2021, it’s not as much about cultivating relationships with media as it is about cultivating relationships with stakeholders in your market.
This means that traditional PR strategies don’t work as well, and companies need to adapt. It’s a digital-first world in terms of marketing, and companies can get in front of the right audience by “meeting” them in various ways.
Unlike the media, stakeholders exist and interact in different ways (depending on who you’re talking to) so brands need to craft digital experiences that meet these people where they already are. Traditional PR strategists would send press releases and social posts to media, hoping to garner attention. Successful PR strategists should reach out to more than the media and reach people through the platforms they’re already using.
Digital experiences could be campaigns, podcasts, infographics, remote summits, Twitter chats, Clubhouse rooms, and so on.
6. Talent acquisition will be a natural outcome of PR
As brands and businesses focus on generating thought leadership and strong digital presence, they’re simultaneously working on crafting a message that helps bring in the best talent for their industry.
Our CMO, Stephanie Chavez, has found a trend among clients: they want to attract the best talent and keep it too.
How does this tie to PR strategy in 2021? Well, people want to work with the best companies, the ones where leaders are well-known, the companies that are transforming the industry. In order to acquire the best talent, brand messaging must prove to that talent that the company is where they want to be.
It’s a natural outcome of PR, or good PR, because successful brand positioning automatically catches the attention of the client, but also the rest of the industry (and potential talent to acquire).
Is 2021 the year to rethink your PR and digital marketing strategy? We’re here to help. We work with clients around the globe and turn their brands into industry titans — let’s chat.