3 ways to adapt and prepare your PR strategy for an uncertain 2021

by | Feb 2, 2021 | Analysis, Public Relations

Teams across the world were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and marketing teams were no exception. As we enter 2021, it’s more crucial than ever that businesses pivot their communications strategies to survive and grow in these continued chaotic times.

With so many organizations being forced to work remotely, monitoring metrics and gaining insights using data analytics have become even more crucial when it comes to measuring impact and success.

Adapting your PR strategy for the uncertain year ahead will support your vision, as well as your direction. Here are a few ways the pandemic has impacted marketing teams globally, as well as how you can overcome these disruptions with an effective PR strategy.

How the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted marketing

When COVID-19 took hold of the world, industries everywhere were forced to transition to remote working. Many smaller businesses failed to survive because they didn’t have the resources and tools to adapt quickly to this type of business model.

Additionally, the pandemic proved to be so chaotic for different industries because the effects varied greatly. For perspective, digital commerce sales in home-related goods were up by 70 percent in 2020, whereas sales for general apparel or luxury items struggled to achieve a mere 10 percent growth. Not being able to predict the impact on certain industries made it difficult to create an effective PR campaign during the thick of the pandemic.

With an unprecedented rise in online shopping and the disappearance of major brick and mortar retailers, marketers everywhere have been struggling to change their in-person marketing mindset to one that is more digital-based. What has made this transition even more difficult is the lack of education surrounding cyber-attacks and scams that many organizations are falling victim to due to lack of knowledge and experience.

With 54 percent of small businesses unable to keep their cybersecurity providers, it has increased their vulnerability and exposure to phishing scams and malware attacks that they have never seen or experienced before.

How to create an effective PR strategy to overcome disruptions

Just because digital commerce exploded in 2020 doesn’t mean it’s too late to adapt now in 2021. Below are three valuable ways to pivot your PR strategy for this new digital retail world:

1. Embrace new collaboration tools

Effective communication is at the heart of every team. And with predictions of remote working becoming a norm in the foreseeable future, improving internal collaboration has become a priority. Using communication and collaboration tools is a sure way to keeping teams in contact and working together effectively.

Being able to assign project due dates, keep projects and team separate, share files safely and control user permissions are some of the most essential features you’re going to need from your team collaboration and project management software to ensure success in remote collaboration and communication.

Zoom has also seen massive growth during the pandemic as business teams, students, families, and friends use it extensively to keep connected. Some tech startups have received over $140 million in funding during the pandemic, simply because they served a need that arose during these chaotic times.

Ultimately, the first step to adapting your PR strategy in the new year is to improve the internal communication at your organization by implementing a collaboration tool that works for your team.

2. Focus efforts on your existing customers

As mentioned above, predicting exactly what our post-pandemic world will look like in 2021 is near impossible. Focusing on creating a long-term PR strategy and nurturing your existing customer base can be a more effective way of maintaining sales and engagement rather than focusing on gaining new customers.

Marketing tactics such as hosting a webinar, email marketing, or working with influencers that are already connected with your audience can support you in developing more personal relationships with your audience and direct your focus towards building trust and authenticity in the digital world.

3. Improve your digital presence with cross channeling

Without a doubt, the most important approach when adapting your PR strategy is to embrace a cross channel mindset.

Cross channeling, also known as an omnichannel strategy, moves customers across a variety of marketing channels not only while they’re making their buying decisions, but also during the buying or purchase process itself. It also installs clear customer segments so marketing can be tailored across all channels to ensure a brand is represented appropriately across the board.

For instance, using an effective ecommerce platform that allows cross platform selling can give you a great head start up the ranking chart to potentially boost sales. However, choosing a platform that does not allow cross channeling for your website or online store can negatively affect your chances, according to Brisbane-based web developer and online marketer Nathan Finch of Best Web Hosting Australia.

Finch explains the benefits of cross channeling with the most popular online store platforms, arguing that, “Picking an eCommerce solution that allows cross platform selling is the smart move. Platforms like Shopify allow you to sell on Amazon, Etsy and other marketplaces which massively increase your ability to generate sales.“

Thriving in an uncertain world

While we still live in uncertainty as we go into the new year, it’s impossible to predict what’s to come from in a post-pandemic world. With that said, that doesn’t mean there aren’t simple steps you can take to adapt your strategy and embrace digital transformation, rather than fighting it, to give your company a better chance of thriving in the remote working future.

Having a media database can help you monitor your efforts when implementing your new PR strategy. It will allow you to track customer engagement, compile lists of essential contacts, and support many modern marketing strategies highlighted in this article. Surviving in the new year will take resilience and flexibility, but above all the willingness to adapt.

Dan Fries
Dan Fries is Founding Partner at Lakeview Capital in Hong Kong.