In the last year, the world witnessed a number of brands facing boycotts and cancel culture on social media, which made every one of them adopt a different PR and communications strategy. While some companies decided to stand their ground and fight back, others preferred to cancel their campaigns and maintain a low profile until conversations died down. These days, companies don’t have too many options regarding public backlash during a PR crisis. Most of the time, all they can do is wait for people to stop talking about the subject and move on. Additionally, even the smallest bad Public Relations move can end with public criticism, or a company’s stock drastically decreasing .
At the start of the pandemic, all PR professionals and agencies had to think quickly and engage editorial outlets to help companies share their stories. They accomplished this by delivering interesting information, personalized pitches, and positive stories. Both internal and external company stakeholders were updated frequently and transparently. Companies also started to drastically shift toward digital PR, and started monitoring trends and conversations in real-time a lot more, to find different consumer touchpoints and connect with audiences.
While the future is unpredictable given how the news cycle changes in mere hours, companies will have to find the right balance between their profits, people, and the rest of the world in the new year.
One of the biggest things that the corporate world is going to be focusing on in the coming year is people. With the entire world in a balancing act between addressing the latest variant of COVID-19 and recovering from the pandemic overall, people will have to communicate, engage, motivate, retain, and much more. Those people range from a company’s consumers to their stakeholders and employees, which is where public relations can be incredibly helpful. With the world continuing on its digital medium binge, companies will have to align their PR messages with their overall purpose, and deliver those messages with authenticity and creativity to connect with the aforementioned people.
Not only that, but brands will no longer be able to hide behind a logo or faceless brand persona. They will have to create a believable and strong story about themselves that’s authentic, and that focuses on accountability if companies want to keep their positive reputations intact. Consumers want to support brands that can take action after making statements, which means businesses can no longer talk about protecting the environment while still selling single-use plastic.
Although the mediums and models of storytelling are constantly evolving, one thing that’s going to remain true in the next year is the need for authentic stories. Consumers will want to hear why they should support brands, why those brands matter, as well as the impacts they have. That’s why companies should be focused on appealing to their consumers’ values, and on highlighting the benefits that consumers can get from their products. Instead of simply focusing on aesthetics, brands should hone their authentic storytelling abilities to truly shine.