What will change in PR, Internal Communications and Communications Strategy? Three central assumptions.
People and companies were catapulted out of their comfort zone at great force and high speed in 2020. Everyone was talking about "driving on sight." In 2021, our windows will remain fogged up – yet, some things are also changing: Sitting out and postponing are less or no longer available as possible measures, because "the show must go on."
We have learned to work and communicate decentrally in our home offices, we have all grown in technological skills, we have embraced new-work issues, and we are living the New Normal.
Three central changes will keep us communicators busy for a long time to come:
- The virtualization of analogue PR formats will become permanently entrenched.
- The digitalization of employee communications will continue to increase in quantity and quality.
- "Strategy first": changing conditions demand an update of every communications strategy.
Thesis 1: The virtualization and hybridization of analogue PR formats will become permanently entrenched
Many formats that were conceived and designed in a classic analog way had to be cancelled in short notice and re-structured in 2020. Some were held hybrid or even entirely virtual. In the industry, we have made a huge evolutionary step to which we will not go back.
We will have to get used to one thing: in the future, there will be analogue, virtual and hybrid organized events. The virtual world should be used primarily for the productive and measurable interactions; the real one for the human and social aspect. This creates a good balance between effectiveness and people's desire to interact.
Formats such as
- Press conference, media round table and panel discussion
- Editorial tour
- Forums and expert discussions
- Barcamps (just think of the hype around Clubhouse)
will increasingly take place digitally in the future. If the organizer wants to achieve high-quality results, it is important to understand the opportunities associated with the virtualization of these formats and to leverage the corresponding communicative potential. The digital environment offers simpler, faster and lower-threshold opportunities to involve all desired stakeholders in a communicative way. More people can participate; spatial barriers, tight travel budgets and, above all, high time requirements for attending face-to-face events are eliminated.
We have summarized our learnings from 2020 in the article "Press conferences, product presentations and so on - whether analogue, hybrid or virtual - strong content, professional partners and a coherent script are the be-all and end-all". The necessity of virtualization became normality and we will not completely revise this step again.
Thesis 2: The digitization of employee communications will continue to increase in quantity and quality
Virtual employee communication has already been gaining importance for years; it reached its peak in 2020, when home office became the new normal. The importance of internal communications has also been increasing for years due to the change aspect - change is the new constant.
Employees are now the most important target group for companies alongside customers. The "employee experience" determines internal communication. It describes the employee experiences that are made in the company. This in turn means for companies that reaching employees, informing them, communicating with them, guiding them and also promoting communication among themselves has never been more central. Internal communication made it onto management agendas in all companies in 2020. It was not just about informative and communicative aspects, but much more about team spirit, solidarity, "one company spirit" and a sense of community.
Technically, we are in a better position than ever to optimize internal communication:
- Enterprise collaboration platforms such as Office 365, slack and zoom enable teams to work efficiently.
- Classic TYPO3, yoomla or Wordpress based intranets are just about able to do their job ...
- ... but in many places they are overtaken by the social intranets of COYO and Staffbase. Why? The employee experience gets a more consistent quality here.
The most important thing is to differentiate between collaboration (in groups, collaboration, file sharing, etc.) and information (news, editorial contributions) and to bring professional partners to the table. The days of the employee magazine as a stand-alone solution are over! The goal is to tell organizational messages and stories in an orchestrated way across all internal channels and to bring both executives and employees along. We have the right tools (e.g. strategy translation, storytelling, learning nuggets, spaces for reflection and sharing) to do this.
Thesis 3: "Strategy first" – changing conditions demand an update of every communications strategy
2020 was a turning point. In the second Corona year, it is more important than ever to put one's own corporate strategy to the test and update it. The same applies to communications.
- Will the adjustments made in 2020 still be appropriate in 2021?
- How has our communications positioning in the market changed and what impact will this have?
- Have the target groups (stakeholders) changed? If so, how?
- Should I adjust my core messages?
- What is the best way to deal with the timeline and action plan?
These and other questions need an answer. Alternatively, there is a risk of wasting time and money ineffectively.