5 marketing & PR trends for 2021 CMOs need now

5 PR Trends CMOs Need to Watch for 2021

[6 minute reading time]
There’s no shortage of uncertainty in marketing and PR planning for 2021. But there are some trends happening that are sure to impact PR and Marketing in 2021. At Avaans PR, CMO’s love us because we know consumer trends impact where our target audience will be, the frame of mind they’ll be in and what journalists will write about.  On a tactical level, trends impact our content creation, journalist relationships, and campaign recommendations we’re making now and in the next year. We’re ready for 2021 to require agility, but we’ve found that even agility requires forward-looking and yes, some planning. These are 5 of the marketing and PR trends for 2021 we’re watching on behalf of our consumer-forward brands.

PR Trend #1: Techlash Continues

From a PR trend perspective, this has a huge impact. Now is the time to reimagine how you’ll use social and digital media in 2021, from both a marketing and PR perspective.

The sting of social media won’t soon to be forgotten by consumers, regardless of political affiliation. During 2020, in particular, during the pandemic, social media took on outsized importance, but also affected consumers in new ways, and not all of them positive.

Yes, consumers continue to spend time and even buy on social media, but they are spending more and more time in micro-groups of their own on platforms like Slack or Messenger, or in like-minded platforms. This means brands will have to be extremely smart about their placements and presence in 2021. The separation also requires brands to be exceptionally clear about who their customers really are.

Further, the coveted 25-55 college-educated, earning $100,000 or more per year are using social media for customer service. This coveted group will not support companies who don’t support customer care. If 2020 was the year of pandemic-related customer acquisition for your brand, 2021 will most definitely need to be about keeping them happy and engaged. Part of that will most definitely be a branding effort to existing customers, ensuring your values align with theirs (more on purpose-driven initiatives below).

But it’s not just customer service affecting social media in 2021.  e-Marketer reported:

We have increased our forecast on mobile messaging and now believe time spent by US adults will grow by 4 minutes in 2020, to 24 minutes per day, not only due to the pandemic but also data showing strong engagement on messaging services like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Apple iMessage.

 

PR Trend #2: Work With Media in New Ways

Whether it’s TV, programmatic, or print, all media outlets are bracing for reduced advertising revenue in 2021. This will have very real implications for public relations initiatives.

First, according to Edelman, trust in media actually increased in 2020. This means you should absolutely be leveraging the trust of other outlets, particularly in lieu of the distrust around social media. However, you should do so with earned media and branded content.

Expect to see more “branded content,” in 2021. Well done branded content can be very effective in both PR and branding, so consider these options carefully. Branded content is better received than traditional ads, in fact, Second Street Lab reported in June that branded content through premium publishers sees a 50% brand lift.

Further, outlets will need to keep eyeballs on their content, to help drive ad revenue, brands with media relations campaigns should be looking at ways to support outlets who support them. At Avaans PR we are actively doing this for our clients already and seeing great brand lift and also enhanced journalist relations.

 

PR Trend #3: Purpose-Driven Buyers

Trusted brands saw huge increases during the pandemic, up to 50% growth, according to McKinsey. This is due to an unprecedented shift in brand loyalty during the pandemic.

Even pre-pandemic, affinity for brands who take a stand and align with consumer’s values were seeing real ROI on purpose-driven initiatives. As Americans slog through the pandemic, they are consistently re-evaluating priorities, this is especially true for Millenials and GenZ.

PR trends for 2021, include self-love and body positivity will be a purpose for many buyers, especially those who emerge from isolation hibernation with a few extra pounds. GenZ is feeling stressed. While some are still below the age of 18, they remember the great recession. Right now, self-care and home comfort are top of their list. Pre-pandemic, GenZ was actually returning to malls, but the pandemic has left this generation feeling a bit powerless and reconsidering purchasing behavior, at least for now. But 51% of GenZ’ers say they will return to in-store shopping. But when GenZ returns to stores, according to Retail Dive, they’ll do so with the expectation of safety and a frictionless environment that mirrors the ease of online shopping.   GenZ is also moving towards “thoughtful consumption,” especially those brands with responsible sourcing, environmentally friendly policies or support social issues. Local businesses and minority-owned businesses are also on their radar in a whole new way.

As for Millenials, the eldest of whom are in their 40’s already, are leading the way, followed by the often forgotten GenX, to continue online shopping across almost all verticals from essentials to alcohol, according to McKinsey.

Plus, record low-interest rates have created a whole host of new home buyers. In September 2020, 60% of U.S. homebuyers were Millenials, they’re likely to spend an increasing amount of time at home, items that allow them to spend more quality time with friends and family will be attractive, so delivery and home-based products will take a new focus for that generation.

PR Trend #5: The Re-Opening of America

We can’t really say when the “re-opening of America” will happen, but what we DO know Americans are ready for it already. The pent-up demand for all things in person will require ALL brands to pivot marketing and PR in 2021. We predict safety and trust will be key for the reopening of America.

Work is likely to be forever changed, more people will work from home than pre-pandemic. This means fewer people will waste time commuting. How will your initiatives work into their newly found time in the newly re-opened America? Will podcasting remain as vibrant as it was pre-pandemic? What about the TV surge happening now? Think about where your customers will be spending new time as we emerge from a post-pandemic world.

From tourism to retail to direct-to-consumer products, brands will need to be thinking about how they will be relevant at the right moment.

From a public relations standpoint, you’ll want to be thinking about how your brand will differentiate itself in the media and marketing activities. With trust and security taking new precedence, brands will need to think about how they will reinforce those messages in a brand-consistent way.  Now is the time to explore partnerships and the potential activations, which will create the memorable moments consumers are craving.

The time to plan for the Re-Opening America is now, the campaign should be fully ready to pull the trigger. From content to media relations to events, now is the time to plan, but bake in flexibility. For example, secure your video producers now, and create three original scripts, secure the time and the talent now, so you can move faster than everyone else when the moment is right.

PR Trend #5: Cross Collaboration

This is the year where everything needs alignment. If you haven’t already, tear down the silos between PR, Marketing, and Branding. Get those people together now so they can be more effective together in 2021. Think about how each department can align on digital and in-person initiatives. Think about initiatives that are word-of-mouth worthy, there will be plenty of industry and even national coverage for brands that are thoughtful about how they align.

A unified, personal experience will be an expectation in 2021. So ensure your messaging, your purpose, and your plans are operating together, not just in tandem, but together.

Use your owned, earned, and paid media together in new ways and your brand can benefit from the realignment of brand loyalty happening right now.

 

If you’re ready to use these and other marketing & PR trends for 2021 in a more customized way, let’s talk. 

 

CPG Lifestyle Case Study

TO ENHANCE PARTNERSHIP & INVESTOR OPPORTUNITIES FOR AN EMERGING CPG BRAND THROUGH EARNED MEDIA COVERAGE

THE PR CHALLENGE

An ambitious CPG brand, previously unknown outside its local area, aims to secure expansion investment and distribution partnerships.

THE PR KUDOS

“Exactly what we were looking for in PR representation…smart, tough, persistent, and well connected… Consistently able to pitch us to the right outlets at the right times to get the coverage we were hoping for. Tara and her team are great and she came up with multiple really creative ways for us to stand out from the masses. I would highly recommend Tara and I would happily work with her again in the future.”


Ryan H.,
Marketing VP
CPG Marketing | Product Innovation | Lifestyle Branding

THE PR SOLUTION

Engage business, lifestyle, and vertical journalists on a weekly basis with timely, newsworthy storylines, tied in with announcements, conferences, and media calendars. Storylines encompassed purpose-driven, product-forward, and executive thought leadership,  Ensure national reputation management with media monitoring and on-going strategic counsel. Ensure key messaging consistency through internal training and on-going media training. Develop owned media assets, including video, press kit, and investor deck to stand out from the pack.

NATIONAL REPUTATION MANAGEMENT


Our national brand, competitor and category monitoring informs corporate decisions including partnerships, product development, and U.S. trends in the lifestyle and wellness category. We’re able to zero in on emerging trends before they happen and activate with strategic pitching.

ON-GOING COAST-TO-COAST MEDIA ENGAGEMENT


Activate media calendars with personalized review opportunities for selected journalists quarterly, which increased journalistic coverage as well as word of mouth.

OWNED CONTENT DEVELOPMENT


On-brand owned media, including branded video and regularly updated press kits and investor decks.

EXECUTIVE BRANDING


Reinforce executive thought leadership through media profiles, speaking engagements, and custom content development including paid, earned, and owned content.

WORD OF MOUTH CONFERENCE & TRADESHOW ACTIVATIONS


Ensure on-site coverage with journalists through activations of on-site journalists and sponsorships through engaging experiences and access.

AGENCY & PARTNER COLLABORATION


Work hand in hand with a branding firm to ensure consistent key messaging and partner PR agencies to ensure joint announcements are mutually beneficial.

THE RESULTS


Magazine cover featuring brand name and CEO

846 


Unique media mentions in 12 months.

10


Expansion to 10 additional U.S. states and 1 international destination

$7.4 million


Earned media value in 12 months

1


Clio nominated branded video

9% 


Share of voice against 5 aspirational, better funded, more established, national brands.

PR Firm California
Lifestyle PR Firm in California
Business PR Firm California
Reputation Management PR firm
Consumer Technology PR Firm
Consumer Technology PR Firms
green entrepreneur cannabis
Cannabis PR Agency California
MJ Biz
Benzinga cannabis

Global Tourism Social Media

A GLOBAL TOURISM DESTINATION TELLS SUSTAINABILITY STORY-GLOBALLY WITH PR & SOCIAL MEDIA

THE CHALLENGE

One of the world’s best-known visitor destinations seeks to unify its global social media story-telling by providing agencies representing the destination in Europe, Asia, North America and Pacific regions with best practices, guidelines, processes, and procedures which reflect the global nature of its social media communications.

The organization also needs insights on tracking successful social media campaigns, both organic and paid with KPIs which can be easily reported to stakeholders.

Global social media crisis communication systems and processes are also needed.

At the same time, maximizing resources and merging brand paid social media budget.

THE SOLUTION

Support development of social media KPIs, establish best practices, including user-generated content UGC policies and guidance regarding GDPR. We maintain communication with agencies in Hong Kong, China, New Zealand, Australia, UK, and Germany to ensure consistent on-brand storytelling in social media.

We also manage a global social ad campaign, with a sophisticated funnel, that reaches into 12 countries and is translated into 10 different languages or dialects.

GLOBAL REPUTATION MANAGEMENT


From copy to images and video our international social media oversight ensures the brand story is consistent across languages and platforms including WeChat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

ESTABLISH GLOBAL SOCIAL MEDIA KPIs


We identify, evaluate and maintain organic and paid social media KPIs across 12 different global markets. We watch for shifts and changes and make recommendations to partner agencies and brand based on trends or shifts.

ESTABLISH & MANAGE GLOBAL SOCIAL MEDIA AD CAMPAIGNS


In addition to developing successful advertising campaigns, we developed a system and a process to manage multiple languages and cultural touch points across campaigns.

SUPPORT CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS


We help build systems and processes to implement crisis planning to agencies around the globe for social media distribution. Additionally, we create and establish guidelines for agencies for confident brand communication during periods of crisis for their location.

ESTABLISH INTERDEPARTMENTAL COMMUNICATION CHANNELS


We help build systems and processes to implement crisis planning to agencies around the globe for social media distribution. Additionally, we create and establish guidelines for agencies for confident brand communication during periods of crisis for their location.

ESTABLISH SOCIAL MEDIA GUIDELINES


From crisis management to content and branding, our team develops guidelines and training for agencies around the globe. We also support the organization with recommendations on important changes including GDPR, FTC Influencer Guidelines, and User Generated Content (UGC)

THE PR SUCCESS RESULTS

494%


Increase in social brand reach

494%


Increase in social brand reach

91%


Increase in social media brand engagement

25% 


Action rate on paid social website click campaigns.

133.6% 


Action rate on paid social video view campaigns

100.4% 


Overall action rate on paid social ad campaigns.

PR for Purpose Driven Brands

SOCIAL MEDIA WITH PURPOSE


Social media with purpose allows you to drive loyalty and attract new customers because your in touch with your customers. We are a digitally forward agency that combines emotional intelligence with strategy and data to build social media campaigns and programs. From startup to IPO, we build brand value. We’re a team of big thinkers with an eye for detail.

SOCIAL MEDIA

CONTENT STRATEGY

REPUTATION MANAGEMENT

CONTENT DEVELOPMENT

PAID STRATEGY + EXECUTION

CRISIS & REPUTATION RISK

CONTENT AMPLIFICATION

COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT

EXECUTIVE POSITIONING

SOCIAL MEDIA VIDEO & PHOTOGRAPHY

Social Impact PR

Building The Future Hand in Hand with Parents with Social Impact PR

THE CHALLENGE

Our client is a grant-receiving organization whose mission is to prepare pre-K children to become successful students. Of the audience served, many parents are economically disadvantaged and rely more heavily on their native language than English. There is another audience: the state legislature who is considering early education programs in its budget. Our legislative content must strike a delicate balance of advocating without alienating decision-makers.

THE SOLUTION

Our campaign strategy is to utilize social media as the primary communication method with parents and caregivers. We choose this method since many economically disadvantaged families access the internet only through their mobile phones and rely on social media to communicate with one another and geo-diverse family members. Our content needed to speak directly to parents, and be creatively sourced since the organization had no in-house photos or videos with social media permissions. We also felt content needed a peer-to-peer tone versus a “paternalistic” or “educator” tone. We purposely kept the content accessible through simple language and basic design; we felt overly polished content would feel inauthentic and too promotional to the primary audience of parents and caregivers.

CONTENT STRATEGY


Our content included fun activities for families to do together, alongside educational messages sourced from Vroom, an early education app which provides age-based activities for parents & caregivers with the science-based insights on how these activities impact early education. We ensured visuals included diverse examples of families relatable to the target audience and ensured posts could be translated on social platforms by incorporating it into the post. We also developed a series of social-specific videos for use in advertising and organic posts.

COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT


We monitored social platforms for questions and comments while also encouraging parents and caregivers to share with one another.

COLLABORATION


We engaged other area-based non-profits who shared our target audience to provide more complete resources to our community while also engaging their audiences as well.

CONTENT DEVELOPMENT


We sourced information and developed all social content including copywriting, video, and, social graphics, for parents and caregivers with an eye towards engaging the audience with easy-to-understand, supportive messaging.

SOCIAL ADS


Since our community was new and there was an urgency behind the message, we utilized social media advertising on Facebook and Instagram to ensure the messages reached the correct target audiences consistently.

STRATEGIC ADVISEMENT


We provided data-driven strategies and recommendations about utilizing the content, how the audience received the information, what they most responded to, and ways to incorporate it across platforms.

THE PR RESULTS

401K+


Content brand impressions by target audience during 6-month geo-targeted campaign.

52% 


Engagement rate on owned content including videos and social visuals.

1


Because community support was so clear to elected officials, the state legislature passed a bill funding early education programs serving 3-4 year-olds, particularly those who are economically challenged.

Building Community Around Purpose

THE PR CHALLENGE

Our client, a beta platform to provide parents with controls and tools for their kids’s social media usage was ramping up extremely quickly. They needed market research, but also needed real-time qualitative feedback to inform UX, branding and messaging.

THE PR SOLUTION

Since the target audience of parents was on social media and the product addressed key parental concerns on social media, our strategy was to utilize the platforms to create awareness of the product while also providing on-going feedback and community. We developed a strategy which gave parents early access while also offering them a place to discuss online safety with one another. We lead with community development and encouraged loyalty by providing a “safe space” for parents seeking resources. The community received early access to the tools and their conversations informed messaging and product development. Through a blend of owned content including organic social media and blogs, we provided resources and guidance to parents looking for advice surrounding social media. We engaged parental influencers and mental health experts to provide emotional support. All owned content was integrated into product development, PR and marketing initiatives.

STRATEGIC ADVISEMENT


In addition to providing community management services, we also ensured internal team members were empowered to engage their audience through community management training to ensure integrated internal understanding of the consumer and community.

DATA DRIVEN COMMUNICATIONS


Through social and media listening, we developed a data-driven feedback loop used in all marketing and communications, resulting in timely messages for use in marketing & media relations.

COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT


While providing social media resources to parents in the community, we also tested content types and styles to see what resonated most strongly with parents.

INFLUENCER ENGAGEMENT


We identified and engaged influencers who resonated with parents to review the product in both beta and pre-launch mode.

“From strategic planning to implementation, (they) demonstrated their expertise…truly a pleasure to work with,”


Jeana D.,
Marketing Director

THE PR RESULTS

2.8 Million


Organic digital brand impressions across social platforms including Facebook & Twitter.

252,000


Average monthly unique people reach on owned digital properties.

300% 


Increase in organic Facebook impressions. Our community of engaged parents and influencers were sharing tips & hints and engaging with our client’s tool providing essential feedback for both product development and communications teams.