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. 

 

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 media ads during COVID-19 case studies
successful social media influencer campaigns

Successful Influencer Campaigns Aren’t Unicorns

PR has a number of tools in its tool belt, one of them is successful influencer campaigns & partnerships.

In consumer goods, influencer marketing is establishing a significant place in the mix. When we see some of these campaigns, a little part of our PR soul dies. Frankly, some of them are brand-damaging and unlikely to have an influence on sales. When working with influencers, you’re already taking a risk that there’s a past or future PR fiasco that could affect your brand reputation.  Influencer marketing should be considered paid media and owned media and just like you wouldn’t put out an ad or other content that damages your brand, nor should you execute an influencer campaign without consideration. Some people seem to think so long as you’re getting your product in someone’s IG story that’s all that matters, we disagree.

We believe all consumer goods PR should be executed with strategy and thought. While influencer campaigns aren’t exactly the same as ads, we take insight from advertising research to inform our recommendations. 

On average, it takes 21 brand exposures to bring someone to the purchase phase.
5-9 brand exposures to create brand awareness
more than 10 exposures during the consideration phase

While influencer campaigns are a paid opportunity (influencer rate range from product exchange to $1 million per post), there are public relations and brand opportunities and implications as well. While you might not be able to spend $1,500 per post, you should seriously balance the PR and brand implications.

 

Working with an influencer is NOT the same as placing an ad, so we also wanted to share our best practices for a  influencer campaign.

Get Crystal Clear on Your KPIs BEFORE Reaching Out to Influencers

If your consumer goods influencer campaign objective is SEO value as opposed to brand awareness, those are actually very different campaigns. They are both relevant.  Who you work with will be different. The number of influencers you work with will be different. How you CHOOSE the influencers might be different.  But even if you’re doing an influencer campaign for SEO value, we beg you to consider the brand implications.

For many CPG brands, their brand may be their most valuable asset, so treating the brand with long-term implications in mind is essential to the longevity or value of the brand. From a brand building and cannabis PR perspective, for MOST brands, our perspective is to go deep, rather than wide with cannabis social media influencers.  The biggest reason this is our typical approach is because of the importance of repeated exposure. This is PARTICULARLY important to emerging CPG brands whose other marketing initiatives are constrained.

Influencer Campaign Success #1:  Choose Your  Influencer Partners Carefully

No matter what strategy you apply to your influencer campaign, align with influencers who align with your brand. If you’re a wellness brand, maybe partnering with an influencer whose feed is about their last party isn’t natural synergy, the influencer’s audience may not receive your product well.

Why is a wellness driven product doing an influencer campaign with influencers aligned with party culture? Why not align with a nurse, a yogi, and a marathon runner? It’s jarring for customers to see inconsistent messages and creates brand confusion. Getting brand awareness is hard enough to do when you act with brand clarity, why make it harder on yourself?

Instead of looking at followers, look at engagement & reply rates. But dig a little deeper on those engagement rates, they should be consistent with typical engagement. If your influencer has 10,000 followers and 3,000 likes and 1,500 comments, that’s a red flag and suggests automation. On the other hand, if your influencer has 700 posts and 35 million followers, that’s disjointed as well. For context, as of this writing Kylie Jenner has 42M U.S. followers (164M globally), of which 1.2M are evaluated as authentic U.S. engagers, according to HypeAuditor.   Is it POSSIBLE that they reached 35 million followers over 700 posts? Yes, but there must have been a viral trigger, so look to see what that could be.

Take a careful look at the other brands the influencer has worked with and see how they align with you. Have they worked with your competitors? Is that an advantage or a disadvantage?

Since this is likely a paid relationship, you should also be evaluating their overall professionalism. How thoughtful and eye-catching is the content, how professional is their response to your inquiry?

Ruthlessly review their past content for any red flags that could cause your brand problems, and also consider ways to mutually separate in case of a brand clash in the future.

If you follow the other steps below, this stage is incredibly important.

Build a Relationship with the Influencer Before Your Influencer Campaign

Note I keep referring to social media influencers as partners. Treat them as such, treat them as humans. Social media influencers will have an emotional response to how they are treated and no matter how professional they are, how you treat them impacts the outcome. That’s because the POWER of influencers is in the PERSONAL.

Why undermine the most valuable part of the partnership? Why not turn that influencer into an actual advocate?

By inspiring your cannabis influencer, you can bet they’ll have an easier time inspiring their followers and creating content that’s consistent for both brands. Meet with the influencer if you can, engage with them as they’re experiencing the product for the first time.

Explain your favorite aspects of the product/brand and discuss your brand values and vision, so the influencer can align their value systems and genuinely connect with the brand.

This more personal relationship approach is something 90% of influencer campaigns lack, and it shows.

Another reason to build a relationship with a brand influencer is to review how you’ll mutually handle it if the account is shut down during the campaign or afterward.

Allow The Influencer Creative Freedom & Voice

Effective  influencers have their own style of content and voice, you’re likely attracted to that style and voice – let then keep it. Influencers are master content creators, they see the world through a lens that sparks enthusiasm by their followers. A great influencer will happily develop content ideas that meet your objectives, while also reinforcing both brands. This content will put a fresh spin on your brand.

Collaboration magic happens when two brands align in such a way that it seems absolutely natural. Collaborating WITH the  influencer on content as opposed to directing or scripting the content enables to you leverage the influencer’s own brand while also enhancing yours.

Know FTC Guidelines

Make sure to review FTC guidelines on disclosure. This is especially important because it’s almost always the brand who the FTC investigates. The brand has more skin in the game, so the brand needs to be the enforcer.

 

5 emotional triggers in marketing

Imagine your advertising and marketing becoming 2X more effective overnight. Using emotions in marketing and branding is the key to more effective campaigns

According to Roger Dooley, emotional ads work TWICE as well as rational ads. So it’s important your campaign incorporates emotion from the start. You can deploy these emotions through copy and creative in all formats, analog and digital.

Before you create your next campaign, check in with these powerful emotions in marketing and branding.  Be sure you’ve considered your strategy, both long and short term before deciding which emotion works best in your marketing.

Fear
Fear comes in many forms, and it creates a sense of urgency.

Fear also heightens any other emotion created alongside it and it drives us to make deeper connections with those we share the fear with-this is why scary movies create deepen relationships. 

There are several different kinds of fear, but two common types include:
“Fear Of Missing Out” (FOMO): This particular fear tends to work well on younger people in social media. This works particularly well for items with time sensitivity.
“Fear of Isolation”: closely connected to FOMO, fear of isolation, used in connection with health products, deodorant for example: “use this so you don’t smell, because when you smell, you become a social pariah.”

When to Use Fear in Emotional Marketing/Branding:

  • To drive leads
  • You have a specific and actionable solution
  • You have an easy, no stress way to buy

Happiness/Joy
What happens when we feel happy? You might be surprised.

It’s a fine line because if we’re too happy, we might not be motivated to purchase. But happiness DOES make us want to share. It seems good news travels fast. According to a study by Fractl these are the Top 5 emotions which drive viral content:

  • Amusement
  • Interest
  • Surprise
  • Happiness
  • Delight

When to Use Happiness in

in Emotional Marketing/Branding:

  • You want others to share your message
  • You want to build trust and loyalty
  • You can commit to happy content as a brand

Inclusion

One of our oldest motivations is the need to be part of a tribe, included in a group. For our earliest ancestors, it was a requirement for survival, today, that need is still a powerful motivator and when we have it, we feel safe which leads to loyalty.

When to Use Inclusion in

in Emotional Marketing/Branding

  • To attract or retain customers
  • When you can also utilize the fear of missing out
  • When you have the processes and platforms to create and sustain community

Anticipation

We’re hardwired to anticipate outcomes. We’re not always right, but we are always anticipating. You can use anticipation in a couple of different ways, to attract and retain customers.

Attracting customers with anticipation typically comes with a stimuli and an outcome. The faster the outcome, the more likely we are to repeat the stimuli. Once we’re hooked on the stimuli, the outcome frequency can become variable (you might have learned about Pavlov’s dog, this is the same theory). Gamification uses anticipation brilliantly.

Keeping customers with anticipation requires a product commitment (free sample with every order) or an anticipation experience connected to the product (why subscription boxes are so popular). You can create variables in the anticipation (products, frequency) that will actually heighten the anticipation.

Something else about anticipation: it DECREASES when we’re stressed and change can be stressful. This is why consistency in branding is so very important and why big changes for big brands are big-time risks. Can you think of a brand whose big change created major negative upheaval for them?

When to Use Anticipation in

in Emotional Marketing/Branding:

  • You have the willingness to keep the anticipation fresh
  • You want to build loyalty and repeat buyers
  • Your brand is elevated and/or lifestyle oriented

Expertise/Leadership

Making your customer feel like they’re the smartest/sexiest/most influential is a great way to get people’s attention. People love to be the most “something” of their friends and people will work to achieve this effect.

This marketing emotion is closely connected with our need for mastery and our innate value of time. Because of these two addition motivations, the harder you make it the more committed they will become to the process. It’s all about our emotional triggers again, we’re hardwired to commit more time to something we’ve already committed time to – this is the same theory behind the test drive and keeping you at the dealership during a car purchase.

Again, games do this quite well. Successful fitness trainers do this quite well.

When to Use Expertise and Leadership in your Marketing/Branding

  • When you have a unique process people can move through and see improvement
  • As a relationship builder, such as influencer marketing or tips and tricks your customers can use

Good luck and I look forward to hearing how you’re using emotion in your marketing and branding.