Much like every industry, in PR we are still navigating the new world and working hard towards recovery. In a time when we’ve all been asked to social distance, the word “pivot,” was THE word of 2020 as brands have had to change direction in order to fight through the noise and reach their audiences.
That said, there are many trends that we predict will carry well into 2021 and beyond, and companies will want to implement these strategies into their marketing plans. At Hope-Beckham, we will be encouraging our clients to stay on top of these trends to stay competitive and get results in 2021.
The title of this article says it all. Sometimes a year like 2020 calls for a complete revamp and rebrand. I know I’ve done a lot of self-reflection. Similarly, the pandemic has caused a lot of companies to shift gears. Companies have had to add pick-up and delivery options to survive, launched online stores, and shifted to virtual events. No matter what the motivation, rebranding is most likely on the radar for many businesses right now.
Additionally, 2020 was a tumultuous year, and has encouraged many companies to rethink possible social and racial stereotypes. Familiar examples of this happening are the transition from Uncle Ben’s to Ben’s Original and Quaker Oats announcing its removal of Aunt Jemima. There’s no doubt that we have all come out of 2020 much different people and organizations, so it’s important that we take a look at our brand and make sure that represents who we are today.
Corporate Social Responsibility
As mentioned on the previous topic, we are all doing our best to navigate an increasingly polarized social and political climate. Now more than ever, people are going to focus on how companies respond to the global pandemic, presidential politics and racial and social issues. With the rise of these hot button topics, more people are not just supporting activism themselves, but expecting the brands they support to take a stand on important issues too.
In 2020 we saw brands emailing their databases trying to empathize with their audiences, perhaps including a “Black Lives Matter,” sentiment. Many brands have since been shamed for including this in their marketing campaigns without taking any real action on the issues themselves. In 2021, it’s important that brands not only say that they stand with their audiences but are aware that their participation matters most. That being said, it will be crucial that companies incorporate activism into their branding and make sure that their plan produces measurable results over time.
It is predicted that customers will spend 100 minutes a day watching online videos in 2021. Most everything we do from our work to entertainment is now through Zoom, TV and social media channels. That being said, video content should be a priority for companies this year. Videos are much more effective at capturing audiences than text and are especially useful for evoking an emotional response.
Now, more than ever before, people want and need genuine connections which have boosted popularity among live videos. Livestreaming videos on social media is becoming increasingly popular because it offers viewers the opportunity to ask questions in real-time and engages them. These are anything from live musical performances, podcasts and live chats. Additionally, I’d be lying if I said my inbox wasn’t flooded with upcoming Webinar invitations. Webinars create a great opportunity for companies to broadcast information, attracting large audiences to their business. This helps a company be seen as a thought leader in the industry. They are fairly simple to make, don’t require a lot of video production, and you can capture viewers from around the world.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention events, as this is so much of what we do at Hope-Beckham. I certainly miss doing in-person events, seeing my work come to fruition in a tangible setting, and there’s no virtual event that can replace that. However, we did a fantastic job on NDSC’s virtual fundraiser the Soiree of Stars. That being said, even in a post pandemic world, we will come to see that hybrid events are the future. Hybrid events are events that have both virtual and physical, in-person components. I expect that hybrid events will be a great strategy when it comes to future gatherings by opening the door for thousands more to participate from home. We don’t want to miss out on that opportunity, so event planners will want to continue to accommodate a virtual audience once live events return.
Ways to engage with a virtual audience are offering perks for those joining remotely (e.g., contests, bonus content). Attendees may also be encouraged to join the conversation, ask questions and keep their webcams on so that in-person attendees can see them too.
A lot has changed over the course of one year. The word change often evokes a scary feeling, but it really isn’t something to fear. Change forces us to learn new skills and challenges us to new experiences. I think we will come out of the pandemic realizing we are a lot stronger than we ever thought and are capable of making it through more than we give ourselves credit for. All we can do is our best!