CEO of Jargon PR, a leading small international agency, delivering world-class PR campaigns that drive business results.
On March 13, 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic was declared a national emergency in the United States, and just over a week later, the United Kingdom went into a full-scale lockdown. With most of the world in similar scenarios, it’s fair to say that the last year has been full of significant changes for us all.
And these changes haven’t escaped the PR industry. Over the last year, we’ve all had to update PR strategies based on new guidelines, be reactive to the latest developments and stay at the forefront of rapidly changing media consumption. With each update and briefing came a new lesson for PR professionals.
We’ve adapted to change faster than ever before, and since the developments of March 2020, we’ve learned a huge amount. Here are some of the top lessons I’ve personally learned.
Content Remains A Priority
Above all, content has been key for brands over the last year. Whether this is in the form of a press release in a print newspaper or a thought leadership article published online, content has helped businesses reach their audience wherever they are.
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Of course, with many of us safely at home, the consumption of online media has skyrocketed since early last year. A recent study by YouGov found that the pandemic has accelerated the decline of traditional media channels such as newspapers and magazines. As a result, many PR professionals are now more focused on targeting online publications to achieve maximum exposure and awareness.
As with each change over the last year, people’s behavior has also shifted. From our conversations with the press and business leaders over the last year, we’ve learned that at some point, news releases have been a favored form of reading, with people desperately wanting to hear good news. However, at other times, thought leadership articles have been a popular choice to provide a voice of support and help navigate the changes of the pandemic.
The pandemic has shown us that no matter the state of the world, content will likely always be a strong choice of media for us all. However, PR professionals should closely monitor the choice of which platform people consume content on.
Physical Trade Shows Will Likely Be Met With Open Arms
Of course, trade shows have adapted to a virtual format over the last year, which has been a welcome change in the absence of physical events. However, even a year later, it’s clear to us that there is still a huge pent-up demand for physical trade shows, and this demand isn’t likely to die out.
Trade shows have still been the focal point to announce important news, as shown by CES 2021 in January. The number of announcements and show roundups we saw in the media almost made us forget that we weren’t actually there in person.
From in-person product demos from a sales perspective to the face-to-face connections you can make with journalists while networking at a show, we’ve realized the importance of such shows for the PR industry. Come the time that normality resumes, physical trade shows will once again give us the ability to make in-person connections, build relationships between brands and journalists, and create unique content for our social media channels.
For now, we have the benefit of time. Before physical trade shows return, you can begin the crucial stages of planning and determine what you want to get out of such events. Once you’ve established your key goals, you can make sure to maximize your presence at trade shows to stand out from your competitors.
Social Media Is A Key Part Of PR Strategy
Unsurprisingly, social media use has grown significantly over the last year, and it shows no signs of slowing down. It is projected that by 2025, 4.41 billion people around the world will be using social media, with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter being the most popular choices at present.
According to Sprout Social, 57% of consumers follow a brand to learn about new products or services, and 47% do so to keep up with company news. The process of streamlining PR activity to ensure that a business’s latest news announcements are included on social media is more valuable than ever. And with the consumption of social media set to grow even further, these platforms create a huge audience for current and potential customers to view a company’s news.
I wouldn’t be able to get away with not mentioning Clubhouse when talking about social media. This new networking platform seems to be what many of us are talking about at the moment. The fast rise of Clubhouse not only shows us that there’s room for new social media platforms alongside the likes of Facebook and Instagram, but also that there will always be new forms of opportunities arising for the PR industry.
With such a significant focus on social media, ensure that your clients’ entire communications strategy is streamlined on their social platforms, and that all relevant news and messages are being shared there. As new platforms such as Clubhouse arise, companies have yet another opportunity to reach their target audience and share their core messages.
The pandemic has fueled significant changes in people’s media consumption, and as PR professionals, what we’ve really learned over the last year is how to adapt in unprecedented times. Whichever way the media and trade show landscapes may change throughout this year, creating strong and insightful communications will remain fundamental for brands to reach their audiences, and this will be the key to their success.
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Author: Simon Corbett, Forbes Councils Member