This year has been a rollercoaster. 2020 has brought a global pandemic, protests and activism, murder hornets, natural forces and so much more that seems to be the cherry-on-top of a disastrous year. Trying to navigate these unprecedented times, it’s important now more than ever that businesses lean on the support and expertise of public relations professionals. PR professionals have recognized that 2020 has changed the industry and are doubling-down their efforts to point businesses in the right direction. In this blog post we’ll explore how 2020 has changed public relations and how those changes are here to stay.

Crisis Communications

A global pandemic is enough to cause a crisis, and adding layoffs and state-wide lockdowns is more than enough to cause panic among businesses. COVID-19 has shown the importance of developing a crisis communications plan for a wide spectrum of events — including a pandemic. Not only is it vital for businesses to develop a crisis communications plan, but it’s even more important to properly implement that plan. Sure, businesses can rattle off suggestions and best practices to be included in their crisis communications plan, but are these ideas realistic and can they be properly implemented and successful among consumers? This is where PR agencies come in by pulling their expertise, experience and extensive research to determine what strategies will work best and be most successful.

Adjusting to A Virtual World

Due to COVID-19 and state-wide lockdowns, businesses and employees have been forced to move their operations fully online. Businesses with events and product launches scheduled throughout 2020 have been forced to cancel or host events and product launches online. Moving events online have businesses scrambling to reconstruct event plans and work through the logistics that going all-virtual brings. Having a PR agency on hand can ease the stresses that come with virtual event planning and event promotions.

Supporting Local

The global pandemic and state-wide lockdowns have drastically hurt small businesses and communities. Consumers are looking at big brands and PR agencies to see how they are supporting local businesses and their communities during these trying times. Now is the time for larger brands to utilize their local PR agencies and immerse themselves in the community. PR agencies can support their communities by encouraging people to shop local and can support larger businesses by researching ways to get involved and give back.

Activism

The Black Lives Matter movement gained tremendous momentum this year. While it’s a cause that has made an enormous impact on our society, it’s important to thoroughly think through campaigns and slogans that display solidarity and support. Using generic slogans without backing them by extending meaningful support is heavily scrutinized and looked down upon. It’s a quick way to get backlash and lose support from consumers. Having a PR agency on board is advantageous for a business because it is a PR professional’s job to research all the negatives about a brand and create a plan to address those negatives. It’s never too late to admit to past wrongs and move forward by doing the right thing.

Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion in both a business’ staff and promotional campaigns is now an absolute must. Consumers and employees are demanding more diversity and inclusion, and the best place to start is within. Both PR agencies and businesses must address the diversity and inclusion sensitivities and challenges they face, and having diverse insights and experiences will lead to smarter and more sensitive campaigns.

PR is an ever-changing industry, going with the ebb and flow of media and market trends. While 2020 has quickly shifted the strategies and goals of PR, these changes will certainly affect PR for years to come.