What 2020 Taught Us About Public Relations: Lessons for 2021

public relations in 2021

We don’t need to sugarcoat it – 2020 was the worst. From a global pandemic to toilet paper shortages, there were tons of surprises, most of which were awful. Brands and communicators around the world were faced with new challenges everyday. PR professionals had very little time to prepare or react to something before something else happened. However, while challenging, 2020 inspired many brands to rise above the noise and face the challenges head on. Overall, we aren’t going to miss 2020. But as we come into 2021, public relations professionals should not forget the lessons we learned in this crazy year. Here are the top five takeaways our agency learned this year, and what we think public relations in 2021 will look like. 


The ability to pivot is essential. 

Having a plan is great. Being able to adapt that plan in case of huge global events is even greater. If we learned one thing this year, it’s that the ability to pivot quickly and efficiently is essential in times of crisis. On a near-daily basis, PR professionals had to pivot and prioritize new plans and messaging, depending on the climate of the world. 

The lesson for pubic relations in 2021: When life doesn’t go according to plan, don’t panic. Flexibility and willingness to look at the bigger picture goes a long way. Adaptability is a skill that we should all take with us in the new year in our public relations tactics. 


Stay rooted in your values. 

While 2020 was a year of crisis, it also showed us what we actually care about. Friends, family, and good values are all things we stayed connected to to get through the year. As far as companies go, the brands that upheld their values and showed empathy stayed strong. Now more than ever, consumers want to see what brands are doing to help people.

The lesson for public relations in 2021: If you haven’t already, define your company values and stick to them. Find your position in the marketplace, and identify what it is that you bring to the table to help make your community a better place. That is what consumers will listen to. 


Zoom is great – to a point. 

In April, Zoom calls were amazing in the business world. However, little by little, every single phone call and email interaction transitioned into a Zoom call. And y’all – the Zoom fatigue gets real. While the platform opened up avenues in PR like virtual press briefings that connected media from around the world in a simple, convenient, and cost-effective way, it also meant that every single business-related event was over a video call. And it. Got. Exhausting. 

The lesson for public relations in 2021: While video calls are great substitutes when necessary and should still be utilized, there is a time and place for actual in-person interaction (when it’s safe again, of course). We shouldn’t forget the use of Zoom in the future, and remember to utilize the technology we have, and get creative with it in 2021. 


When in doubt, simple is better than silent. 

Especially in times of crisis, it can be easy to fall into the trap of overthinking, ultimately paralyzing you into taking no action. When you don’t know what to do in a PR crisis, remember to keep your actions and messaging simple – but you need to act. Silence is still making a statement, and allows your audience to fill in the blanks for you – oftentimes incorrectly. On the other hand, saying too much and over explaining is often ignored by your audience. A short and sweet message is always the best. 

The lesson for public relations in 2021: In terms of messaging and making statements, saying something simple is better than saying nothing at all. Keep your messaging short, to-the-point, and your audience will thank you for it. 


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