Everyone is looking forward to the end of 2020. It’s been a culturally and politically tumultuous year and that’s not even taking the COVID-19 pandemic into account. Unfortunately, the aftereffects of 2020 will remain with us into 2021 as the pandemic continues, but a new year always presents an opportunity to refresh your communications strategy and revitalize your efforts.

Here are the top seven communications trends we believe we’ll see in 2021.

Communications Are Critical: If brands thought communications were important before 2020, communicating to important stakeholders has become doubly important heading into 2021. For some companies, solid communications programs and crisis communications planning are critical not just for staying in business and navigating this tumultuous year, but also emerging stronger. 

Greater Emphasis on Health and Safety: Not only is placing a greater emphasis on health and safety the right thing to do for our customers, our employees, and for communities, it’s also something that clients and customers seek in order to engage with companies. Studies show that consumers and stakeholders are more willing to engage with organizations that are working to proactively fight the pandemic and do their part to keep communities safe.

Brands Must Lead: Now more than ever people are looking for leadership because everything remains uncertain. They are looking and will continue to look to brands to be a source of expert information and there’s an opportunity for organizations to fill leadership voids on important issues. When chaos reigns and more and more people tune out our nation’s leaders, brands with their own channels can communicate messages more effectively to key audiences.

Forging New Connections in New Ways: Often, our clients rely on conferences in order to drive revenue as well as forge the relationships necessary to thrive in their industries. The challenge is how to recreate the in-person experience while also keeping people safe. Stakeholders will expect greater personalization and will have lower tolerance for client experience mishaps. We’re going to see a new evolution of deeper connection that happens not necessarily in person.

Greater Government Intervention: As the country continues to fight and recovers from the pandemic and associated economic impacts, the backlash and the likely geopolitical shift to the left will result in greater government protections for consumers and employees. Not only will corporations have to evolve public relations activities to meet societal expectations, but they have to be ready to harness these societal changes and transform them into opportunities to drive business growth.

Seeking the Good: While the word unprecedented has been overused, COVID-19’s catastrophic impact on our everyday lives cannot be summed up appropriately without unprecedented. We understand that bad things are happening right now. Many people have stopped watching the news. Right now, people need to feel inspired to see a light at the end of the tunnel and to know that there are people out there doing good. That’s where storytelling comes in. We will see storytelling play an even greater role in communications moving forward.

Yes, we have all experienced whiplash this year, but we have learned lessons, have forged new relationships, and are ready to turn the page stronger and more resilient. And communications will be at the epicenter of this revival.