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PR Predictions for 2021

Author: Curtis Sparrer
December 16, 2020

One of cool things about being in public relations is that we get to spend our days living in the news cycle. And for a news junkie like me, that is a lot of fun.

Staying relevant as a PR pro – particularly one who wishes to have any meaningful success in terms of pitching media – means that one must pay attention to what’s going on in terms of current events and simultaneously develop a “Spidey sense” around future trends. The ability to integrate what’s happening *now* with what may happen *tomorrow* is not only key to our success, it becomes another element that makes the job fun.

So, with future trends in mind, here are a few of our PR predictions for 2021:

  • COVID-19 Fatigue – Greater numbers of journalists will tire of COVID-19 stories and will look for other news angles, including a focus on therapies for those who have the virus, as well as vaccines and continued prevention strategies. Many story angles will emerge around the “post-COVID” world and what a longer-term recovery looks like. As we learned when the lockdown began, businesses will need to stay agile, and marketers would be wise to follow Deloitte’s cues and think about the qualities of purpose, agility and trust, among others.
  • The Green Tide – The new year will see greater interest in green technology and technology that can battle or help to abate climate change, including solar, biofuels and hybrid or electric cars. Forbes suggests that 2021 will be a “year of action” and that environmental and sustainability concerns will help drive the global economy.
  • Trump Watch – Now that Donald Trump has been voted out of the presidency and his attempts to overturn the election are going nowhere, there will be an endless spectacle around his potential legal troubles. These include state investigations around tax fraud, as well as his potential status as a celebrity defendant facing rape charges, without the shield of the U.S. Department of Justice as his own squadron of personal attorneys. The mainstream news media – as well as the tabloids – will cover this story with gusto.
  • The Productivity Pushback – After working remotely for months due to the pandemic, employees will want a return to eight-hour days after seemingly being on call 24 hours, seven days a week. A recent IBM study shows that the percentage of people who wish to work from home on a full-time basis is declining, with the majority citing their mental health as the top reason for getting out of the house. Many people are also interested in some sort of a hybrid arrangement, enabling remote work with occasional visits to the office, and we see that as a potentially important trend for employers.
  • Media Consolidation – In 2020, the consolidation of media outlets continued unabated, driven largely by increased competition and the pandemic-induced downturn. The media holding and digital brand company Red Ventures purchased CNET Media Group from ViacomCBS for $500 million in September, and BuzzFeed bought the Huffington Post. And well-respected online journalists are leaving for the greener pastures of big, traditional media, including Ezra Klein’s departure to the New York Times. As the WaPo rightly points out, “many of the top names in digital media have struggled to realize the profits once imagined from the epochal transition from traditional print and broadcast media to the online kind. This has led to layoffs, waning of capital investment and a broad industry retrenchment.” Given continued economic instability, we can expect more consolidation of this kind in 2021.

I think we can all agree that this year has been something of a dumpster fire – and, with any luck, things will improve in 2021. But no matter what the outcomes are, you can be sure that Bospar will be in the mix, staying on top of the news and keeping an eye on what’s next for our clients.