Despite the double digit increase in COVID-19 cases in New South Wales, with the probability of the availability of a vaccine in Australia in 2021, the New Year will hopefully herald a major step up in business activity. If so, it is timely for organisations to check existing communications strategies to see if they are still relevant to the needs of a post pandemic world. If business activities do increase, should those strategies developed a year ago, then possibly amended (or possibly ignored) because of the virus, also be changed? Or are they still relevant?
Many activities planned for 2020, such as major launches and other events, and even simple one-on-one contact, had to be abandoned. Some may have been replaced with activities more appropriate for lockdown circumstances, but probably not at all. With what will hopefully be a general easing of restrictions many businesses could well want to start 2021 with a bang and remind clients of their strengths and the benefits they offer.
Many business plans, like new product launches and other campaigns, had to be put on hold or cancelled during the year.
Now is the time for organisations to review the status of their communications program to be ready for what could now happen in 2021, so they are positioned to take advantage of opportunities that are likely to develop.
Reviewing any plans made a year ago is also a good time to revisit areas such as key messages. Have they changed, or indeed should they change? Did some corporate successes in 2020 go unnoticed? And is it possible to develop ways where they can still be promoted?
Are there “lockdown” stories from 2020, like senior appointments made in March, when lockdowns started, where the new executive is still yet to meet the team that has been working from home since? Stories that could now be told to demonstrate positive aspects of the company and its culture, and reintroduce executives and plans to the market?
Or have novel workplace approaches been developed, mixing office attendance with working from home, showing the organisation as being socially aware, flexible, and a good place to work and to do business with?
With changes in business practice brought about by the pandemic, does an organisation’s target audience focus need to be tweaked, along with ways to reach them?
Another consideration is to avoid maintaining approaches introduced because of the lockdown that have now become habits – or an easy way to operate. They may have been right for 2020 but perhaps need a rethink for 2021.
On the other hand, there could be good reasons for the 2021 communications program to turn some of the temporary approaches developed during the pandemic into ongoing activities, such as on-line briefings, Q&A sessions and podcasts. If so, is an investment in training and equipment needed?
The way things were done in 2019, as well as steps introduced in 2020, need to be compared and evaluated in any new program development.
And whatever the approach decided, may 2021 be a much better year for everyone.