No Going Back After COVID — Communications Trends for 2021

Last year marked one of the most tumultuous times in history. A global pandemic, economic downturns, political uncertainty and broad public protest over racial inequality had an insurmountable impact. The effects will be felt this year and beyond and fuel the10company’s top 10 2021 communications trends, each with significant implications for companies and executives:

1. Empathy is essential. After dealing daily with the health and financial concerns for employees and their families in a COVID world, genuine empathy will underpin all communications as never before.

2. Avoid remote culture shock. Even when we return to normal, working virtually will remain a reality. The imperative is creating a unique culture for all employees when many will not be in the office full-time — or at all.

3. Virtual virtuosos are the next wave. Mastering virtual meetings have become must-have skills. Now that everyone is getting used to Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Meetings and other technologies, the ability to deliver engaging, interactive internal and external events and presentations will be elevated.

4. The definition of “employee” expands. Internal communication goes beyond the employee. In the work-from-home environment, companies will put greater emphasis on including family members in considerations and communications.

5. Everyone gets a vote. Building consensus will guide strategic decisions more than ever. Following 2020’s dramatic events, expect more appreciation for getting input from many sources before making big and little policy decisions, as well as the ways to communicate them.

6. Global is good again. With a new U.S. administration in place, engagement with the world on key issues will be back. Companies need to explain their points of view and actions to the average American, as well as the subsequent benefits of playing on a world stage again.

7. Purpose matters more. Talk turns to action as a result of the numerous racial, gender and economic social movements that are having real influence. The chief communications officer can help define and drive their company’s purpose, values and actions to ensure that all audiences understand what their company stands for.

8. A skills-refresh optimizes opportunities. Reskilling receives renewed investment and importance. Programs that teach new skills and boost technical proficiency can benefit all — no matter your race, gender or educational background. Communications will play a key role in promoting the vision and programs.

9. Navigating social platforms is critical.  It’s not just LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. TikTok and new players, such as WTSocial (a non-toxic social network), Elpha (devoted to career-building women) and Signal (encrypted messaging app) may all be on the list. Prioritizing and leveraging the right outlets is crucial.

10. Can we trust each other? Instilling trust is the 2021 challenge. After a year of fake news, political rhetoric and COVID testing and vaccine concerns, every organization must double down on authenticity, transparency and honesty to build back trust.

Valerie Di Maria is principal at the10company, a strategic marketing and communications agency. This is an edited version of a post that first appeared on the10company blog.

[Photo credit: dragana gordic]

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