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Three Unique PR Trends to Consider in 2021

January 5, 2021
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Times Have Changed. So Have the Trends.

This year has been anything but normal — 2020 has been a whirlwind of emotions, canceled plans, strategy shifts, and everything in between. PR agencies and professionals around the world have adapted to meet the needs of clients in various industries and seemingly solid annual public relations plans have been thrown to the wind. With all these changes, PR trends in the digital marketing agency world have changed too. We’ve seen our world change in ways that none of us could have ever imagined, and with that comes a shift in the nature of the trends that we’re so used to seeing as we head into a new year. 

Though we’re optimistically turning the page into 2021, that does not mean we can expect the world to just return to its regularly scheduled programming. It’s crucial for a PR firm and their PR professionals to reflect on this year’s learnings and strategically advise clients on how to make the necessary changes in ways that make sense and will help them maintain relevance in industries that have been forever changed. 

The Importance of Environmental and Self-Care

The concept of “care” is one that comes in many forms and is an area where we’ve seen and will continue to see an emphasis in the coming year in digital PR, content marketing, and influencer marketing alike. The “Blue Beauty” movement was originally concepted by Beauty Heroes’ Jeannie Jarnot, who notes that not only is this an ocean-friendly practice. The movement is also about beauty brands making sure their products are environmentally friendly. This means ocean-safe as well as sustainably sourced products that have a minimal carbon footprint while being aware of the ways their practices have a positive impact on the environment. 

This applies to e-Commerce and CPG beauty brands in a big way, and is a touchpoint for PR professionals to keep in mind when pitching PR strategy. As a publicist, ask yourself questions like, “Am I prepared to walk an editor through my brand’s sustainability practices if they ask?” and “Do I have the proof points I need to showcase my brand’s dedication to a minimal footprint?” These questions should be easy to answer and live at the forefront of a beauty campaign. It’s not just the message, but the value of that message that really makes an impact. 

With the shift to the work-from-home environment, many consumers have shifted their focus from cosmetics to feel good, self-care body products and skincare. Editors have also taken to this transition and this is very prevalent through the content that is currently being published. Consumers want to know about different types of treatments they can do at home and are looking for new ways to switch up their skincare routines by incorporating more earth-friendly “blue beauty” products as well. Creating interactive content and media coverage around this will not only improve your PR efforts overall but really touch the target audience you are looking for. 

Lastly, the traditionally over-the-top media mailer that was once a moment of delight for a receiving journalist is now frowned upon — both media and influencers are not interested in the excessive packaging, but rather a minimalistic approach that doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment. From a PR standpoint, this interest is only going to continue growing into 2021. Know what you’re pitching and how it impacts the environment and understand how the product(s) you’re showcasing play into the demand of today. This PR and marketing strategy will help spread a positive message on social platforms and media outlets for you and your client. 

Giving Back is No Longer a “Holiday-Centric” Initiative

The COVID-19 pandemic had and continues to have a gut-wrenching impact on businesses around the world. More than ever, consumers are looking for unique ways to support their communities, whether that be through purchasing from a brand that donates a portion of proceeds back to a charitable cause or by supporting small, locally owned mom-and-pop shops and restaurants. A great example of this is the holiday gift guide trends in 2020 we’ve been seeing — there are more and more headlines and content that celebrates small businesses, minority-owned brands, and companies that place a strong emphasis on the importance of giving back. 

PR professionals need to be prepared with messaging that brings value to the table if they want to see continued coverage in today’s market. It’s as competitive as ever, but for good reason. Both editors and social media influencers are increasingly aware of how partnerships and editorial content is reflective of their personal ethos and are selective about the products and brands they cover. 

There are some media and influencers who won’t even consider showcasing or working with a brand unless there’s a strong element of corporate social responsibility involved. This trend isn’t going away, and PR pros need to have a deep understanding of the values of the media that they’re pitching and ensure they’re addressing these points through media outreach. 

Nostalgia Marketing is Here to Stay

We’ve all found ourselves seeking comfort in unique ways this past year, and brands have answered that call. There has been a resurgence of brands reverting back to “simpler times” with less of a focus on what’s modern and cool and an increased focus on things that make people feel good and elicit feelings of nostalgia. 

Take the iconic brand Lisa Frank’s recent collaboration with Friends, one of the most popular sitcoms to ever air, for example. The feel-good vibrancy of Lisa Frank’s brand brings a lot of us back to our sticker book days and combining that with the ‘90s nostalgia of Friends is the icing on the cake. Pizza Hut also recently released a 15-pound weighted pizza blanket that reminds us of a cozy night in with friends and family while also eliciting feelings of comfort and safety. 

We’re also seeing a revival of ‘90s style celebrated through graphic tees with your favorite cartoon logo, fuzzy sweaters, biker shorts, and more. These types of products and subsequent marketing campaigns not only tug at the heartstrings, but give consumers a feeling of urgency to get back to those nostalgic times through purchasing. By using digital storytelling, or just storytelling in general, and content creation, customers feel more engaged in the product, leading to better outcomes.

What Does it All Mean?

2020 was anything but normal and the trends we’re seeing heading into 2021 support this claim. In order to see continued success, PR professionals need to be more aware than ever of what they’re pitching and the implications that come with that. 

Know the ethos behind your brands and put this at the forefront of your pitches. Do your research into the editors who you’re pitching and make sure your offering aligns with their personal and professional values. Make the value aspect the focus of your PR messaging and your campaigns. Help your brands identify ways they can start or continue to support communities that are most in need right now — it will all pay off in the end. 

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