Updated: Nov 23
Every public relations agency faces newer challenges with every passing year. Changing political and social environments, improvements in technology, and the varying quality and availability of PR professionals are only a few.
This year, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has possibly been the most destabilizing factor in how organizations carry out their corporate communications operations. It's forced them, like almost every other industry, to operate digitally, apart from compelling them to revamp their messaging, both internally and externally.
Here are five challenges that public relations companies face in 2020 and how they can navigate through them.
1. A Protracted Process of Reviewing and Approving Messaging
Gone are the days when employees would find themselves working in the same space, making every step of the communication process in a PR agency efficient. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a shift of all operations online, thereby delaying the process of reviewing the content and messaging.
Efficiency ensures that organizations can seize the right moment to send their messages across to stakeholders and the public at large. Defining a strict review process and specifying who can approve communication is the best way to cut through the clutter. Keeping the legal department in the loop can also make it easy to navigate through any gray areas.
2. Attempting to Build a Presence on Every Online Platform
Improvements in technology and the development of new social media platforms have led to many PR services wanting to establish their presence on each one of them. But this is not always the best way to increase your visibility.
With wanting to establish a wider presence comes more responsibility for every person in your communications department. Having a voice on every platform is not enough; it must be tailored well enough to stand out. Organizations must rethink their strategies and identify which platforms suit them best, unless they're willing to hire more people with diverse expertise.
3. Reduced Budgets
A well-defined budget can be the difference between a struggling and a flourishing company. With several organizations taking financial hits as a result of COVID-19, public relations companies will be seen reducing their budgets significantly, unless they manage to remain almost as profitable as before. During such a terrible crisis, it will be imperative for these agencies to prioritize their resources based on what will fetch them the best results.
4. A Younger Society Will Expect Organizations to Take a Political Stand
With changing times, the expectations that an organization stands for something political is only increasing. No longer are the realms of business and politics separated.
In such an atmosphere, communications professionals will have to clarify their positioning internally and then externally. All their messaging will have to go through this lens for it to create an impact. Needless to say, consistency will be key here, as any wavering will be seen as a sign of instability.
5. Changes to Work Culture Due to Social Movements
Communications professionals today need to cater to changes in internal organizational culture as much as those on the outside. With grassroots movements surrounding #MeToo, diversity, and inclusivity, an organization's internal work culture is as much under scrutiny as its external portrayal.
Clearly outlined goals are crucial for public relations companies to carry out their communications operations effectively. This way, organizations can effectively foresee and subvert crises that could harm their image. Most importantly, however, it will ensure that communications professionals have specified goals to work towards.