Fundamental shifts in the environment will have renewed implications for PR in 2021. Legally for example, companies including Twitter & Deloitte will allow consumers to work permanently from home making the latter a "multifunctional hub," according to McKinsey & Company. As a result of these shifts, new consumer behavior patterns will emerge that must be accounted for by all PR professionals. Below are few note-worthy trends:
Granular PR - PR pros must scale down communications to the granular level. As a result of political, legal, and socio-cultural shifts of the pandemic, consumers in 2021 will live in smaller microcosms - both physically and socially. For example, “The ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to affect how Americans shop, with small business owners bearing the brunt of the impact of consumers’ changing spending habits.” To respond, American Express encouraged cardholders at the granular level to support small local businesses with a $5 credit on purchases over $10, up to a total of $50. A number of other companies such as Starbucks have started targeting tribes such as first responders by offering free coffee.
Social Responsibility / Crisis Management - PR pros must be ready more than ever to effectively respond/react to notions of social responsibility into 2021. As consumers migrate into civil societies due to the pandemic and lockdown, they'll become more conscious and empowered than ever before. As a result, they'll hold brands more accountable along issues including workforce diversity & inclusion, sustainability, and data privacy. PR pros must therefore be able to quickly mobilize and mitigate to these issues.
Digital Decision Journeys - PR pros must digitally innovate triggers, search & evaluation, purchase and post-purchase mechanisms in 2021 for managing brand reputations. As consumers live, work, and even play from home, their entire decision journey will also move online. PR pros must shift how they've traditionally managed public perceptions through print editorials and CSR initiatives for example, to a strict digital-first mindset. No company can hide in the digital environment and therefore all touch-points are a should be a matter of concern for brand perception and reputation management. For example, a number of fashion brands are starting to livestream KOLs (key-opinion-leaders) as an evolution from traditional influencer and editorial placements. In another case, outdoor clothing and equipment manufacturer Patagonia - through its Product Lifecycle Initiative -, “offer services like…“online ‘repair guides’” to encourage consumers to reduce, repair, reuse and recycle its products after purchase. " From triggering interest to managing the post-purchase experience, such innovations will determine PR winners and losers in the "new-normal."
Client Snapshot: Sharpe Suiting (feat. on WSJ) - Shifts PR From Runway-To-Responsibility In 2021
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – For Fall/Winter 2021 Sharpe, an acclaimed atelier with celebrity clients including Laverne Cox (“Disclosure”), Leo Shang, (“The L Word”), and Aydian Dowling, is taking a radical turn on the traditional fashion capsule next season. Rather than investing in a fashion collection, the brand is teaming up with music artists to promote diversity and inclusiveness across the music industry.
The line-up includes Grammy nominated R&B artist Jailia Simms, Reina Lam, and Amanda Kruger. The production team includes James DeAngelis, winner of the YouTube “Streamy Awards” and music producer Hubie Wang who has credited work with platinum artists including Travis Mills and Jason Mraz. Executive Producer, and founder of Sharpe, Leon Elias Wu will oversee the campaign and explains, “Growing up, we loved listening to 80s music and watching music videos of all our favorite artists. Today, as a queer and POC-owned business we get to recreate some of our timeless favorites, all the while injecting some modern LGBTQ and POC representation and style.” The Cassette Capsule will kick-off in early 2021 on YouTube and IGTV in partnership with a national charity.
Since 2013, Sharpe, #SharpeHaus – an acclaimed atelier and public benefit corporation– has pushed conventions in fashion and visual activism. Their work has gained applause from VICE, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair and notable Oscar, Emmy and Cannes celebrities the world over. Sharpe’s mission is to have a positive effect on, create opportunities for, and to support women, people of color and the LGBTQ community through charitable channels.
Sources:  White, Alexandria. “Amex encourages cardholders to shop at small businesses with a $5 credit when you spend $10 or more.” CNBC.com, 30 August 2020. Accessed Web, 27 November 2020. https://www.cnbc.com/select/amex-small-business-offer/
 Kelly. “Patagonia – Turning Social Responsibility into Company Business.”Harvard Business School-MBA Student Perspectives, 09 December 2015. Accessed Web, 27 November 2020. https://digital.hbs.edu/platform-rctom/submission/patagonia-turning-social-responsibility-into-company-business/
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