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Looking Back, Moving Ahead: Three PR and Communications Trends

As we round out anoth­er year, it’s the per­fect time to reflect on our suc­cess­es of the past year, the oppor­tu­ni­ties ahead and what we’ve learned over the past 12 months when it comes to the ways in which we help our clients com­mu­ni­cate with their stakeholders.

With 2022 plan­ning in full swing, we’ve asked our team to share how they believe PR and com­mu­ni­ca­tions strate­gies have changed over the past year and what that means for the year ahead. Here are three resound­ing themes we’ve seen across the board in 2021 and where our clients are look­ing to focus in the year ahead:

  1. Increased focus on inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions: work­ing with a vari­ety of clients in the man­u­fac­tur­ing and health­care space, Account Super­vi­sor Johan­na Hol­ub has seen an increased focus on inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions over the past year as many busi­ness­es con­tin­ue to nav­i­gate work­ing remote­ly, in a hybrid mod­el, or back in the office under new guide­lines and restric­tions. Peo­ple are the key to a suc­cess­ful orga­ni­za­tion and many face the new real­i­ties of “the great res­ig­na­tion” and labor short­ages. Because of this, it is essen­tial for busi­ness­es to ensure they are com­mu­ni­cat­ing with their teams in a way that not only rein­forces com­pa­ny val­ues, but cre­ates or main­tains a pos­i­tive work cul­ture — one that shows they care.
  1. Online is every­thing: Bri­an Bell­mont, Pres­i­dent of Bell­mont Part­ners, believes that while the pan­dem­ic def­i­nite­ly forced com­pa­nies to think cre­ative­ly about how to repo­si­tion them­selves and oper­ate dif­fer­ent­ly, when it came right down to it, many shift­ed back to the basics to com­mu­ni­cate with their cus­tomers. In a con­ver­sa­tion with Upsize Mag­a­zine for this month’s cov­er sto­ry, Bri­an talks about how, with peo­ple stay­ing home and turn­ing to their screens more than ever, busi­ness­es (includ­ing our own) need­ed to take a hard look at how they were com­mu­ni­cat­ing with their cur­rent and poten­tial cus­tomers online. This includ­ed cre­at­ing new con­tent on every­thing from web­sites, to blogs, to social media to ensure their online pres­ence was strong and rel­e­vant in an ever-chang­ing world.
    Account Direc­tor Megan Derkey agrees, adding that increased focus on a company’s online pres­ence also includes more focus on ele­vat­ing the thought lead­er­ship of indi­vid­ual employ­ees and exec­u­tives on LinkedIn. Over the past year, more and more of our clients have seen the val­ue of show­cas­ing the vast array of exper­tise on their teams in order to make deep­er and more authen­tic con­nec­tions with their key audi­ences. See­ing the impact and engage­ment that is pos­si­ble through LinkedIn, we’ve helped many of our clients shift away from paid efforts on the plat­form to gen­er­at­ing more orig­i­nal con­tent from indi­vid­ual sub­ject mat­ter experts to great suc­cess. This shift will con­tin­ue to be impor­tant as it allows for more per­son­al­ized engage­ment and ele­vates a brand’s val­ues and cul­ture by com­mu­ni­cat­ing through an indi­vid­ual per­son ver­sus a face­less organization.
  1. A focus on embrac­ing human­i­ty: Author and inspi­ra­tional speak­er Simon Sinek said, “If we don’t under­stand peo­ple, we don’t under­stand busi­ness.” This real­ly hits home when it comes to the sig­nif­i­cant shift in how our clients have approached their PR and com­mu­ni­ca­tions strate­gies this year, and as they devel­op plans for next. As Vice Pres­i­dent of Bell­mont Part­ners, I have seen the biggest shift in 2021 to be about con­nect­ing with peo­ple on a more mean­ing­ful and authen­tic lev­el than ever before. These last two years have impact­ed vir­tu­al­ly every aspect of people’s lives — what they care about and val­ue, and what they have the time and patience for when it comes to com­mu­ni­ca­tions from brands. Over the past year, we’ve helped our clients remain laser-focused on the peo­ple — where they are at on any giv­en day, week or month, and how to ensure their com­mu­ni­ca­tions are meet­ing them where they are at. This has includ­ed things like keep­ing a clos­er eye on when to pub­lish con­tent to not appear tone deaf, how often we com­mu­ni­cate, or how to deliv­er a mes­sage in a way that will res­onate. We’ve con­tin­ued to help our clients fine-tune their com­mu­ni­ca­tions strate­gies to ensure they focus on the peo­ple and align with their core val­ues in a way that con­tin­ues to build trust and loyalty.

While it’s hard to say what the next year will bring, we believe these shifts are here to stay, and for good rea­son. Whether it is launch­ing a new prod­uct or shar­ing inter­nal changes with your employ­ees, how you com­mu­ni­cate those ini­tia­tives can make a world of difference.

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