Communication trends in 2021: more collaboration, awareness and digital acceleration

January 8, 2021

At communication agency Omnicom PR Group, we are proud of our many specialists within their fields and communities. What important trends and developments did they see during 2020? And what awaits us in 2021?

Reputation management: doing business from the heart

“Surely 2020 was the year of inclusiveness,” says Marjolein Rigter as a reputation management and crisis communication specialist. “Not only did many minority groups gain well-deserved attention, but COVID-19 also forced us to recognize the importance of ‘together’. This trend will continue in 2021. Working together instead of competing against each other is the mantra. But also sharing instead of just keeping everything to yourself. We see this reflected in new leaders, and we also notice the appreciation for this broader view among citizens and consumers. In short: business is also about more than just making money. The heart must be involved, and thus strengthen the existing purpose push.”

Social media strategy: COVID-19 as the digital accelerator of the decade

COVID-19 has earned many descriptors and Chéline Ruhof-de Vries is happy to add another one in the field of social media strategy: “The coronavirus is the digital accelerator of the decade. In 2020, for example, the clock for digital communication strategy advanced by an average of six years (Twilio, 2020). Consumers, too, accelerated the transition to digital channels (video calls and podcasts) and TikTok grew enormously among millennials. Furthermore, we see more ‘human’ stories about social issues. And as long as the world is still ‘closed’, social media is the perfect showcase for e-commerce.”

Employee engagement & change: a magical myth disproved

“In 2020, the myth within employee engagement & change, claiming the office is a magical place where you work with colleagues, was disproved,” says Bauke van der Loo. “It turns out that working together from home is very successful. As long as you, as an organization, invest in visible leadership and dialogues between, and with, your employees. It’s all about listening carefully to what’s going on in your company and then using that knowledge to align your policy. After all, working remotely is not the same as the work you do at the office. That requires flexibility, but also commitment from the top to the employees to gauge the well-being of your people and thus keep things together.”

Photo by Olia Danilevich from Pexels.

Accountability: no more sweating, but knowing

“In 2021, we will review the measurability of our communications department and professionals more emphatically,” predicts Juriaan Vergouw. “The pandemic will have an impact on investments in communication, but also on a reassessment of communications as a function. Such as what does communication contribute to the business goals? This calls for more available analytic tools that map the relationship between communication effort, output and business impact more sharply. Measuring no longer becomes sweating, but really knowing and understanding. This requires the latest skills for communication professionals and analytics as an inseparable part of your job profile.”

Media strategy and public relations: the importance of social relevance

Joost Reijnierse sees the tone changing in the landscape for media strategy and public relations. “The social relevance of the content is more important than ever. Make the story personal, speak from your heart and let figures speak as evidence. And of course: build a personal relationship with editors and journalists. It’s no longer about scoring a ‘quick publication’. You work much more with a journalist on a relevant story that adds value for your target groups”.

Creativity and content strategy: gravity and emotion beat humour

“At the same time, we are seeing communication becomes even more serious in 2021,” says André Dammers. “Gravity and emotion are going to definitely win over personal reflection and humour. COVID-19 makes every perspective suspicious. I would be sorry if we lost that wink within the communication. Laughing is so liberating. It’s up to us and our clients to keep looking for originality within that context. Together, let’s have the courage to deviate from the beaten track. In the end you will be seen and heard.”

Photo by CoWomen from Pexels.

“Together, let’s have the courage to deviate from the beaten track.”

Public affairs: increasing lobby due to rising healthcare budgets

“In the field of public affairs, healthcare budgets are rising,” states Jacques Bettelheim. “This increases the importance of lobbying from and towards the healthcare sector. More and more companies are also linking their sustainability policy to their own public affairs objectives. For example, we are increasingly using podcasts for our PA-purposes in order to explore greater depths and explain complex issues more clearly. We also see a stronger role for the government, and markets under pressure. Finally, we expect increasing public-private partnerships (government, business and academia) in the tech sector.”

Sustainable awareness among food brands and consumers

“In the food sector, too, a lot has shifted in 2020 and a number of shifts will continue in the coming years,” says Jeannot Waaifoort. “Thanks to the closure of restaurants, the delivery service has really expanded. We rediscovered home cooking en masse, retail sales rose sharply and cookbooks are hotter than ever. We think more about the sustainability of our food, and food brands are more concerned about sustainability in their own communication strategy. We also see more and more alternative choices for meat on the agenda for ever larger groups in 2021. The food brand that really takes the consumer by the hand to make daily, sustainable changes, wins …”

From health care to healthy living

“In 2021 we see a further change from health care to health and healthy living, or from treatment to prevention,” says Danielle Friskes. “The demand for patient focus, digitalization, affordability of care and satisfied patients is rising on the agenda. Healthcare providers are looking for new ways of working together. That requires even more effective models for strategically advising and supporting stakeholders. In 2021, Omnicom PR Group will focus on the question of how communication contributes to the successful implementation of digital healthcare.”

The increasing social polarization around tech

“The tech landscape is increasingly part of social polarization,” says Mark van Gemeren. “On the one hand, the power of big tech is growing, because a large group of consumers want to be at the forefront of ‘everything connected’. But at the same time the group of consumers is growing suspicious of innovations because they fear that the business community and government will expand their power. As a result, the number of (unexpected) stakeholders is growing and the acceptance of these innovations is playing an increasingly important role to help a company succeed.”

Would you like to know more about these trends and how to improve your communication strategy in 2021? Contact our specialists at [email protected].

Top photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels.

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