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Why Marketing and PR Pros Must Think Differently During 2021 Planning

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As marketing and communications professionals, we thrive on the opportunity to sit down with clients prior the new year to ideate and plan for what’s to come. It’s a time to reflect on team successes and how we shift, reprioritize or think outside of the box to take a company’s brand to the next level.

It also serves as an opportunity to take a step back and think more holistically about our partnership, mapping out new ways to grow together. We pride ourselves on the ability to work with clients in identifying the right combination of tools and tactics that can help at any stage in a company’s story.

2021: Giving New Year a Whole New Meaning

This year we’ve continued to assess the marketing landscape and how its shifted in this moment to reflect what matters most to customers and target audiences. Right now, marketing leaders are thinking critically about what financial resources will go towards their efforts in 2021. For many, this assignment looks different as we grapple with a global pandemic.

However, recent data from PRovoke has shown that agencies are seeing client budgets stabilize and/or go back to normal; an indicator that things are trending in a positive direction for businesses and their PR partners.

An overarching theme we continue to evaluate for clients as they look towards the future is how their business (and message) has or will evolve as industry transformation continues to accelerate. This sentiment is in line with a recent study from McKinsey, which found that business responses to Covid has increased the adoption of digital technologies as it relates to customer and supply-chain interactions.

Changes Your Integrated Marketing & PR Team Can Make

As you evaluate your company’s approach in the coming year, know that your message, and how its uniquely told, remains more critical than ever in differentiating yourself and reaching target audiences.

“As you evaluate your company’s approach in the coming year, know that your message, and how its uniquely told, remains more critical than ever in differentiating yourself and reaching target audiences.”

Research continues to confirm the importance that storytelling plays in connection, and that emotion is a driving force in connecting to a brand. Those familiar with PAN’s annual Content Fitness Report know that traditionally it is a powerful resource in understanding where and how content can fit in the brand marketing ecosystem.

Our most recent report took a slightly different approach; looking at how marketers have adjusted their content marketing strategy in real time as a result of the sensitivities that have impacted this year. Some of the key takeaways that will be relevant in the new year include:

  • Increase your focus on emotionally driven narratives to meet audience/customer’s shifting expectations, foster positive sentiments and keep the brand story top of mind.
  • Look to leverage tactics like incorporating customer and employee advocacy programs into overarching strategies.
  • Reconfiguring your entire marketing strategy was disruptive for teams in 2020, and it will continue as we enter the new year.

If you’re thinking that you may need to approach planning differently for 2021, you’re not alone. Here are some questions to consider when thinking through budgeting.

Top Questions to Ask as Budgets and Plans Take Shape

  1. What communications elements should I prioritize in 2021 to continue supporting brand awareness?
  2. How can/should integrated marketing and PR support and influence my bottom line?
  3. How will I measure success? What components of data and analytics best serve my overall marketing goals?
  4. How can I balance the need for lead generation and data with making emotional connections?
  5. What programs worked and can stay the same, with little to no new investment?
  6. Where does a PR agency fit into my 2021 plans?

Even if there is a need to adjust budget numbers, there remains tremendous value in determining how and when to use resources wisely to amplify your brand’s narrative. It’s not a one size fits all model, and no single channel will deliver quality impact. Rather think through how to ensure investment in the short term that will continue to lead towards long-term impact.

For additional support as you plan for the new year, head to our Recovery Resource Center.

An image of PAN's Brand Experience Report on the Potentials and pitfalls of AI for marketers

In our annual Brand Experience Report, we asked marketers and customers how they are using and experiencing AI to better understand how the technology is changing that relationship.