What does the world of communications look like in 2021? It’s pretty clear what we stand for and where we’re focusing our communications expertise, as this year we announced a new model focusing on digital, social and PR; but what about the wider industry? Which trends are guiding organisations’ approaches to comms?
Cision and PR Week have just released their 2021 global comms report, surveying 560 senior-level professionals, from agencies and in-house, to understand the role communications plays in the modern business landscape.
We weren’t surprised to learn that 87% of respondents said that the C-suite has sought the counsel of comms more in the past year, with the majority attributing that to COVID-19. Our experience with our clients certainly suggests that clear communication has been vital for businesses navigating the pandemic, so it makes sense that the C-suite would consult expert in-house resource or engage an agency.
PR focus on end-user
Encouragingly, 79% of those surveyed said that their PR campaigns focus on engaging the end-user or target audience; the comms industry is moving away from coverage for coverage’s sake.
But how are we reaching those end-users? The survey asked respondents who they deemed to be the most persuasive influencers and then broke the data down by region. In the UK, the most-selected top choice, interestingly, was ‘celebrities’, and the most-selected choice (each respondent could pick up to four) was ‘everyday consumers’ – two answers at different ends of the spectrum.
“Of the regional responses, the UK had the lowest representation for ‘mainstream journalists’ in this field, with only 47% of respondents selecting that option as one of their four. That’s a trend that’s not replicated in the Crown Dependencies, where the media still hold significant sway.” Dan Gallienne, Orchard’s Head of PR
Brand video is popular
That covers the outlets, but what types of content are the most popular when it comes to reaching consumers? For the UK, the most popular option was an ‘online feature’, but the most-selected top choice was ‘brand video’, which was voted most important by 24% of respondents.
“Our audience is online, and placing compelling content on these digital platforms of persuasion is proven to be very effective at influencing behaviour. The findings from the Cision report echo our own research in the Channel Islands, where 95% of those surveyed are using YouTube regularly, highlighting the popularity and importance of video content. People engage with this, so businesses need to ask themselves if they’re using video to reach their target audience and if not, why not?” Mike Wilkins, Orchard’s Head of Digital
COVID drives use of social
The survey shows an across-the-board increase in the use of social media in response to COVID-19, with 41% of European respondents selecting it as one of their top three choices for types of content. But which channels are the favoured ones?
In the UK, Facebook is still the channel of choice among respondents, who were asked to select the four most important platforms to their broader content strategy. 73% of those surveyed selected it, with LinkedIn coming in next with 64%. Facebook was also the most-selected top choice, with 38% of respondents putting it at the top of the tree.
Perhaps the most interesting social trend recorded since the last global edition of this survey (in 2019) is that LinkedIn and YouTube have overtaken Twitter.
“No doubt the move to working from home and the lack of face-to-face networking opportunities and events over the last two years has supported LinkedIn’s renaissance as a key channel with global brands. LinkedIn is absolutely a key channel for businesses in the Crown Dependencies too, however Twitter remains prominent as it provides an effective way of communicating with influential local stakeholders.” Harriet Black, Orchard’s Head of Social
The pandemic has changed the ways businesses are communicating and the things they are communicating about. As ever, the Crown Dependencies offer their own environments and audiences, so need to be treated with nuance and distinct approaches.
Get in touch if you want to learn how to communicate effectively.