2021: A New Era of Communications and Public Affairs
This week, the Klareco teams from our offices across Southeast Asia hosted our first webinar of the year. The session, which took the form of a panel discussion with our different practice leads, focused on answering a key question; Is 2021 2020 2.0, or is it a new year?
It’s a question that, at face value, might seem quite straightforward and even simple-minded. But dive into the world of communications and touch on editorial agendas, talking empathetically to external audiences, managing a remote workforce, and adapting messaging, and the answer isn’t quite as straightforward as it might have seemed. Indeed, it’s a question that certainly divided our team, and the same was true of our webinar audience made up of marketing and communications leaders from big corporates, brands and trade organisations across SEA.
Indeed, a snapshot poll of these communications professionals revealed that just over half (53 percent) are viewing 2021 as 2020 2.0. Its true, as the pandemic rages on at different paces across the world, its no longer a shocking or ‘new’ event. We have all adjusted to the uncomfortable idea that this is a semi-permanent dislocation, not just from other countries, but from our families and workplaces. We’ve all witnessed the way it has changed the behaviour of our customers and their expectations of our businesses – we can all see these shifts reflected in our own preferences too. As perspectives change, its up to businesses to carve out their path, and work out how they will communicate and how they can have a voice on the things that matter to them, and their audiences.
Without further ado, here are the key takeaways from the session that communications professionals should keep top of mind for 2021:
Adaptability and agility will distinguish leaders from the competition
If 2020 taught us one thing, its that we cannot predict with (any) accuracy what lies ahead. World leaders, health professionals and governments around the world have done their best to inform and advise societies on recovery and reopening, yet rarely has this resulted in a smooth path to a ‘new normal’. The same goes for business communication. Leaders must remain agile and pivot where necessary to ensure their offering is relevant to the changing business and customer agenda. The path ahead is not linear, it will be full of twists and turns that are avoidable in today’s climate, adaptation, and keeping an open mind on how your business might need to change as a result of external forces, is key.
Communicating transparently and with empathy is key to maintaining goodwill
we polled our audience to find out what their communications priorities were for 2021. The results revealed that for 39 percent of participants, transparent and open communications is key. Included in this is the need to display ‘positive purpose’, which 25 percent of our audience are prioritising this year. For many, this means putting people before profits and looking after the physical and mental health of our employees in a way that has never before been so important. People need reassurance, no matter their personal circumstances, and open, transparent and empathetic communication is no longer a ‘nice thing to do’, its crucial and businesses will be held accountable. Indeed, 18 percent of our audience will focus on empathetic communications and 12 percent on living out their brand values. Finally, just 6 percent of our audience will be focusing on localisation of content and messaging, which leads nicely to our next key takeaway.
Breaking down geographical borders will facilitate effective communications with your audiences
That just 6 percent of our audience are prioritising localisation shows an overarching recognition for the fact that borders matter less now than they ever have before. We are all physically separated from one-another, no matter our location – and in many ways this has presented more opportunities for businesses to communicate with those outside their immediate locale. For example, it no longer matters if your spokesperson isn’t in the same country as the journalist your PR team are engaging with and it no longer matters if your latest online shopping purchase is from the other side of the world. We are all united by the pandemic, albeit experiencing it at different paces, and this has allowed the world to be more interconnected than before.
Diversifying communications channels will expose your audience to new opportunities
One thing that can make communication cross-border challenging, is knowing that channels to prioritise in what markets. For example, Facebook is the network of choice for those in Myanmar but it is losing its importantance for some audiences in the Western world. With 2020 keeping us all at home, it also saw the increase in popularity of new and emerging channels – none of us missed the front-page grabbing rise of TikTok, for example. To ensure that your communications continues to reach your current customers, but that it also reaches new audiences for the first time, communications leaders must ensure they are keeping pace with new and emerging communications channels. The risk of not keeping up with the many and varied online and offline channels, and knowing which will work for your business and which won’t, is one that businesses cannot afford to take in 2021.
Finally, and most importantly, 2021 is the year of ‘The Great Reset’. Be prepared for an (un)predictable year ahead
‘The Great Reset’ is the theme of this year’s World Economic Forum usually held in Davos, but this year scheduled to be held in Singapore in May (if all goes to plan). The theme is intended to encapsulate the many varying and hard-hitting agenda items at the Forum, but it rings true for each and every business, entity and human being this year.
One thing is for sure in the world of communications and that’s that the editorial agenda is shifting and business should look to the future, there is change upon us all. The companies who will succeed this year will be the ones who can priorities the key takeaway’s we have outlined through robust and insightful communications that speak directly to their target audiences.
To speak to one of our team about how Klareco can help your business take on new communications challenges in 2021, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.