By Rachel Peck
Well, we’ve made it to December, which in 2020 is a feat unto itself. In the past, communications professionals would’ve started planning for the new year by October – setting up public relations strategies and marketing campaigns for the coming year, as well as researching trends and planning content. However, long-term planning for 2020 – and into 2021- presents its own unique set of challenges. Knowing just where and when to start can be difficult for many businesses, especially those who might be lacking PR and marketing support. With this in mind, here are our PR planning tips for 2021:
Don’t plan too far ahead – be adaptable
This might feel counterintuitive to many communications professionals, as we always aim to be prepared for whatever the situation might be but flexible enough to shift gears when necessary. However, 2020 showed us just how quickly the story can change, the angle can shift and how rapidly a way of living can be upended. As we enter 2021, we’re a little more grounded, but our thinking has (for better or worse) changed to a day-by-day approach. Everything is shifting, nothing is settled and your PR and marketing planning for the new year must reflect that. Start with general themes for the first few months, but only seriously plan content on a weekly or monthly basis. No matter how far out you do (or don’t) plan your content, always be ready to shift if/when it’s needed.
Rethink strategies and tactics
Despite consumers being more connected than ever, it’s also more difficult to cut through the content noise. With so much pandemic content, the 24-hour news cycle and political and social unrest taking center stage, it might be a good idea to rethink the channels, tactics and strategies you deploy in reaching out to your audience. Perhaps there is something you haven’t tried before – such as increasing your social media presence or implementing new types of video or visual content. The brands who are thriving and surviving this new world are those who have proven to be flexible when it comes to adapting strategies.
Lead with authenticity
We’ve written about the importance of authenticity and sincerity before, but it begs mentioning again as it will continue to set brands apart in 2021. When developing your PR strategy, make sure you’re taking a transparent and authentic approach. Focus on internal relations, not just public. This year solidified that consumers are invested in how a brand/business cares for and communicates with its employees. With many feeling the strain of the year and the uncertainty of 2021, it will go a long way to build a comprehensive internal PR plan into your larger communication plan.
As we enter the final weeks of what is certain to be one of the most chaotic years in our lifetime, don’t get caught up in how you might’ve approached this planning season in the past. While the pandemic won’t last forever and we might go back to more long-term communications planning, we still have a long way to go. Instead of a months-long PR strategy, make your internal team a priority and take your external messaging week-by-week.