Three industry experts were brought together by Business Wire for a virtual panel to discuss the media and public relations trends they expected to see in 2021. I’ve highlighted the most impactful recommendations and trends to look out for below.
In the past there has been a hesitancy to trust employees as spokespeople for their organization on social media. Executives tended to avoid utilizing and promoting voices within the company for fear of what an employee could say. That being said, the pandemic has demonstrated to organizations that employees can be trusted outside of the office.
Employees’ voices can provide credibility and validation for an organization’s actions. They’re credible as an expert because of their work experience and knowledge of the organization from the inside. In the next year, you can expect organizations to prioritize celebrating and promoting the voices of employees, customers and suppliers on social media channels.
Some of the biggest global events were still successful in 2020 after converting to become 100% virtual. We can expect in-person events to resume again during 2021, but with improvements informed by the successes of the past year’s virtual events.
First, we can expect online options for most events in the next year. Virtual options are cheaper for guests to access and can expand the event’s reach to new audiences otherwise unable to attend in person. Second, events may play pre-recorded lectures to enable the speaker to answer questions live in a chatbox while the video plays.
The last few years have taught us that no one is safe from disinformation. False or fabricated stories in the media are becoming commonplace. In 2021, we expect organizations to create disinformation playbooks to allow for quick responses if they should be the target of such an attack.
Preparing a plan in advance is critical to informing the best strategy for combating disinformation. As we saw in 2020, sometimes addressing disinformation does little to address the concerns of those who believe it, but instead only fans the flames.
In response to social unrest and calls for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the workplace, public relations professionals are prioritizing the importance of a company’s actions over their words. Business Wire panelist Stuart Bruce spoke to this idea; “You can’t communicate your way out of something you have behaved yourself into.” In 2021, customers, employees and stakeholders will be looking for actions. Tired of apology fatigue, people are interested in learning how organizations will step back and address issues beyond a composed apology.
Of course, actions take time. Sincere apologies must be paired with a commitment to change. For example, following the protests for racial justice after the killing of George Floyd, brands like PepsiCo and Starbucks made statements condemning racism and subsequently backed them up by implementing changes within their organizations. PepsiCo committed to remove the racist caricature of Aunt Jemima from their syrup bottles and Starbucks allowed employees to wear Black Lives Matter shirts, hats and pins.
I hope that, after reviewing these trends, organizations can proactively prepare for the coming year. Change is necessary and inevitable. The best we can do is to stay informed and prepare for it.
Tags: 2020, 2021, Action-Oriented, change, disinformation, events, fake news, hybrid events, implementing changes, Influencers, public apologies, Social media, virtual events