(PR)oliferation in the new normal: Industry outlook for 2021 

Guest Column: Manisha Chaudhary, Founder & Director, Value 360 Communications, shares trends that are likely to dominate the industry this year

e4m by Manisha Chaudhary
Updated: Mar 10, 2021 3:44 PM
Manisha Chaudhary

Digital transformation has been on the cards for organizations for over a decade. The watershed moment for digital adoption in business, however, occurred alongside the incumbent pandemic. The viral outbreak pushed industry leaders across domains to creatively use technology to overcome the roadblocks presented throughout 2020.  It is not surprising then, that a major driver of future growth in 2021 is nothing but technology. 

Now, as the ripples of the pandemic ease off and we settle into 2021, it is an opportune time to introspect and set goals for this new, promising year. Against this backdrop, here’s a look at the trends that are likely to dominate the industry this year. 

Charting a V-shaped recovery

After a tumultuous year that was solely dedicated to survival, 2021 will be all about recovering, stabilizing, and growing further. As brands increase marketing spends in the new year, a palpable V-shaped recovery is projected across all avenues of the communications space. It can be stated with some certainty that brands will focus a chunk of their finances towards bringing back customer confidence and rebuilding the public image of their brand. Thus, the industry is gearing up for an increasing number of brands that will look at employing communications partners to get their word out in the market. Not just public relations, but the spike in interest will be seen across all key digital marketing tools such as social media, influencer marketing, and advertising, among others. 

The need for upskilling 

As things stand, the pandemic has made a solid case for strengthening one’s skillset through constant upskilling. The viral outbreak exposed several technological skill gaps within organizations, which they will now fill by hiring technologically-adept candidates across job roles. Building skills in innovative technologies including AI, ML, Data Analytics, and more will, therefore, be a major trend in 2021. Companies that will now commence hiring will not look at those with outmoded skills, but instead prefer individuals who have been able to identify how to enhance their job roles with technology.  

Embracing the hybrid model of working 

After 2020 gave us a taste of how remote working can be an intrinsic part of a successful and flexible work culture, I believe that the next year will be looking at a hybrid model of working. Along with greater flexibility and accelerated digital adoption, this new-age working model will allow the industry to hire talent from remote locations. This will unlock various lucrative opportunities for skilled professionals across tier 2 and 3 cities, as they will be able to be a part of mainstream communications businesses without having to leave their hometowns. So, the geographical constraints of hiring talent are set to disappear in 2021 and beyond. 

Branching out in terms of talent 

Speaking of expanding the ambit of the hiring process, communications firms are likely to expand their radar and acquire talent from different industries. This is because many different processes – right from native advertising to digital analytics – are now consolidating into the public relations space. To meet the evolving skill requirement in the industry, companies will hire professionals from different specializations and orient them for PR. This will lead to considerable growth in the communications industry with a greater focus on the earned, owned, and bought strategy. 

Building relationships to build success 

The COVID-19 outbreak has changed our perspective and shed light on the need to collaborate to innovate. For the communications industry, this essentially means that we now need to focus on forging a real connection between a brand and its target audience; success will be measured invaluable relationships. Thus, future growth will be hinged upon brand-building through meaningful connections. We will need to create more personalized and authentic connections. It is for this reason that marketing and PR will now go hand in hand. Brands will need to substantiate their marketing claims with integrated communication which includes new-age tools like influencer marketing.  

In conclusion, the industry outlook for 2021 is largely a positive mix of technological advancement, interesting and interactive strategies, deeper connections with the target audience, and hybrid working. I’d say we’re looking at a successful year of revival, innovation, and boundless growth. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com

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