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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.