Published on 9th September 2021
The fluid status of the pandemic makes expert guidance on what will happen from a communications perspective, and how to respond to it, helpful at all times of the year. So, we asked the 2000+ communications professionals in our Partners network to predict the communications environment that will face organizations in the next six months. Inevitably, as a global partnership, many of these predictions have an international flavor. If you want to get a picture of what the communications landscape may look like in your own country, we have teams in 115 cities, in 49 countries on six continents, ready to talk to you.
In addition to the trends below, you can view the Communications Trends video.
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Communications Trends from Worldcom Experts For The Next 6 Months
In this first part of a six-part post, our consultants take a look at Communications Trends. Thank you to our Worldcom Partners from Enterprise Canada, Off Madison Ave, Topline Consulting, BPRESS, Pram Consulting, Realidades, Agencia Interamericana de Comunicación and Media Pozitiv, for sharing their insightful predictions.
Acts Not Ads: Consumers Will Increasingly Value Brands With Purpose
Product-first marketing took a backseat during the pandemic. It was all about corporate social responsibility and showing how brands are actively making themselves part of the solution. Although many regions are well past restrictions and on the way to some form of normalcy, a new standard has been set for content marketing that won’t be going away any time soon.
It’s less about how cool or interesting your product is, and more about demonstrating how your brand is using its platforms and position of influence to drive positive change at the community level. Aligning your brand with causes for the greater good and ‘donating’ marketing dollars to get important messages out will remain a key part of content marketing moving forward.
If there is one thing this pandemic has taught us is that consumers have adopted completely new behaviors in terms of their shopping habits and their work life balance. This will have a profound impact on how brands will need to interact with their customers. Marketing agencies will need to adopt a behavior-based approach to all of their communications. In other words, every campaign will need to align with the motivations of its audience while providing them the ability to perform the behaviors which are most important to them. This will require brands to adopt a behavior-based customer data platform so that all communications can be as personalized as possible.
Brands Will Treat All Of Their Customers Like Influencers
All brands have embraced the power of the “Influencer.” But the smartest brands will also treat each customer as an influencer because each customer truly is. With new customer behaviors being adopted, brand loyalty is fleeting. This situation makes it critical for brands to do as much social listening as social talking. Paying attention to your customers complaints while doing something about them will be as important to a brand as attracting new customers. After all, a bird in the hand really is worth two in the bush.
The Impact Of Influencer Marketing Will Increase
As the world retreated indoors, many businesses cut budgets on offline marketing, for example, outdoor advertising or experiential marketing. Instead, online marketing budgets increased rapidly, especially influencer marketing and now feature more highly in the brand marketing strategies of companies.
Influencer marketing is much more valuable as it introduces a human element in authentic brand and consumer storytelling. On social media platforms, influencer marketing can result in plenty of conversions and sales. But it’s not just a simple set-it-and-go program. To be effective, we will need to define target needs, find and create a hands-on relationships with suitable influencers, and carefully plan, execute and manage the implementation to ensure we achieve marketing goals.
For companies who are engaging in the internationalization process, influencer marketing is a much better way to gather local consumers’ attention. It can solve localization problems and also be highly cost-effective. Some tech and Internet brands from China are now ready to co-operate with influencer KOLs in North America and other overseas regions, to promote their brand and products all over the world.
Globalization has provided a variety of industries with new opportunities, and the communications sector is one of them. Breakthrough technologies have opened up the scope of action, and it is now possible to provide services worldwide without the need to be physically present.
New challenges have led PR professionals to adopt a global approach to the current issues facing society. Communication today is more than ever a fundamental tool to achieve consensus and build bridges that will help achieve collective benefits regarding important issues, such as: climate change, treatment of minorities, immigration, post-COVID economic reactivation, respect for democracy, and world peace, among others.
The needs of society have undergone changes and so have communication channels, thus making it necessary for us to understand consumer trends and preferences to be more assertive when developing communication strategies. These strategies are gradually shifting to the use of digital techniques capable of reaching the masses, but also localized microsegments, when required.
Misinformation, both deliberate and accidental, will become an increasing threat to brands as a result of heightened consumer expectations about how organisations should behave on a range of issues, from climate change to diversity, equity and inclusion. As a result, organisations that once thought the risk of brand damage was low, will need to re-evaluate their risk profile and have a strategy for correcting misinformation. They will also need a proactive approach to explaining what they believe in, so that brand advocates can help to defend them against misleading statements that are circulating.
Corporate values have never been more important. With the instability of the past 18 months due to Covid-19, increased awareness of systemic racism and environmental disasters, consumer values are changing the way people interact with brands. With this in mind, communication strategies must bring these values into the heart of their messaging. The organisations that do this authentically based on the beliefs of the owners, will be the ones that build both an employee and customer following.
Hunger For Social Interaction Will Drive Demand For In-Person Events
The last year has shown that a large proportion of events can take place online. Virtual events have many benefits including the ability to fit them around personal schedules and provide accessibility to events that people wouldn’t otherwise have been able to attend in person. But despite the obvious benefits, it’s getting harder to get registrations for online events. The lack of social interaction due to Covid-19 has meant that people miss the networking that is part of in person events. The convenience of online events will mean they will be used for functions such as catch ups but will never replace the need for in-person social interaction.
The pandemic, isolation, working from home have been the daily routine for public relation professionals for more than a year. Hybrid events, direct engagement with consumers, interactive content on digital communication platforms: all added up to a new ‘PR animal’. As a result, the most successful brands and agencies will be those that have already developed a progressive way to embrace this new way to communicate with more effective and sustainable processes and services.
Other predictions from our Worldcom Experts:
If you want to re-visit the predictions our Worldcom Experts made at the start of the 2021 you can view these here: