Brace yourself when I tell you this: 2020 is almost over. If you are waiting for the “new normal,” we’re in it, and it’s time to begin setting priorities and budgets. As you look ahead to the new year, we rounded up the top 2021 PR and marketing trends.

But with the uncertainty of the pandemic, what can you plan for? We summarized the top PR and marketing trends for the coming year.

Continued Calls for Progress in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Whether you are a non-profit, major corporation or a small business, our workforce continues to significantly need to not only be more diverse but also more inclusive. Organizations looking to connect with the public will need to have an actionable plan to make progress in this area if they want to be relevant and authentic. And for the organizations that don’t elevate diversity and equity in their missions, a public relations crisis is likely to come knocking at their doors.

A racially insensitive comment from a high-level executive can be construed as a company’s stance on diversity. Employees making offensive statements on their personal social media accounts can easily be flagged as hate speech and linked back to their employers. And a complaint from an employee who repeatedly misses the opportunity for a promotion can speak volumes about your organization’s inclusiveness. Without a clear policy and messaging around diversity and inclusion, you not only run the risk of falling behind your competitors, but you also face the risk of negative publicity and catastrophic damage to your reputation.

An Urgency to Make Up for Lost Time

Nearly every organization had to pivot in 2020. Whether you put an event on hold, delayed the launch of a product or halted the spend of your marketing budget, you’re not alone as the world has grappled with how to sustain their business. Creative organizations moved quickly. They identified ways to continue connecting with their audiences without missing a beat. For others, it’s a slower realization that what initially seemed to be a short term problem evolved into the “new normal.” As we move into 2021 and look at PR and marketing trends, companies need to focus aggressively on how they can make up for lost time in a socially distanced environment.

Increased Reliance on Digital Marketing to Connect with Audiences

Which brings us to our next point: digital marketing. Simply posting on Facebook and hoping for “likes” and “follows” is not enough anymore. I can’t stress this enough – the digital marketing environment continues to evolve rapidly. Businesses must stay current to connect with their audiences. However, what better way to connect with your audiences when face-to-face meetings are no longer an option? Used properly, digital marketing could be one of your best investments of 2021.

There are a few things to consider to be successful: Organic content is still king. It’s a long game. However, investing the time to optimize your website and social media content is money well spent. In addition, the highest performing content is typically original, engaging and visually appealing. This means setting aside budget for photography, video and creative brainstorming to ensure your content stands out. Also, prepare to put money behind it. Social content needs the support of paid ads. And targeted Google Ads are highly effective to stay ahead of your competitors.

A Need for Mission-Aligned Branding in the Absence of In-Person Networking Opportunities

The strongest brands reflect every aspect of an organization. What does the organization stand for? You hear it when the CEO does a speaking engagement. You see it in their marketing materials, and their community engagement initiatives live it out. Yet with the absence of in-person networking, a valuable piece of the strategy is missing. Now is the time to take an audit of how you communicate your brand. Is the usage of your logo consistent? Is the content on your website reflective of your services in a post-COVID world? What are you posting on social media? How do your employees describe the brand of your organization? Is it aligned? If not, these are vulnerabilities in your brand that can hold you back from success in 2021.

Cliché as it sounds, no one could have predicted the year in which we are living (winter storms in October??). Yet this has been a year in which we’ve been witness to some of the most resilient and creative strategies of our lifetime. What more can we do in 2021?

Author Nicole Morgan

As the CEO of Resolute, Nicole leads the firm with more than 15 years of PR and marketing experience. She also brings a broad knowledge of industries including social services, healthcare, transportation, retail, technology, and finance.

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