IPREX, the $420m global communications network, in partnership with PRHUB has released insights about the lessons of 2020 and implications for 2021 for the independent PR and marketing industry. Despite – or maybe because of – its many challenges, 2020 heightened the need for communications services.
“While the impacts of the pandemic and the economic disruptions weren’t experienced uniformly across sectors or markets, there are some powerful learnings that both give optimism for the year ahead and highlight areas for communications and marketing leaders to prioritize, wherever they operate,” said Julie Exner, global president of IPREX.
Xavier Prabhu, founder & managing director, PRHUB and President, APAC Region for IPREX, said, “The number of tools and platforms in the PR professionals’ arsenal has grown tremendously allowing us more options to ensure value is delivered to clients; and in many cases more targeted than before.”
Here are the key insights from the report:
Uneven Disruption and Uneven Recovery among PR firms
Firms with deep experience supporting hospitality, tourism, and travel suffered alongside their clients, as the impacts of the pandemic brought much of that sector to an abrupt halt. While these firms continue to recover, many IPREX firms also expect to be impacted by the emergence of new or changed trade dynamics, from the aftermath of Brexit for the E.U. and the U.K., to the next generation of China-U.S. relations under a Biden administration, among a myriad of others.
The Complicated Future of Facts Means More Communication Needs
Both the pandemic and the accelerating polarization of societies around the world have contributed to the fracturing of traditional sources of public information, undermining citizens’ confidence in official messaging from government and private brands.
IPREX firms have seen an increased demand related to developing strategies to reinforce the credibility of those institutional players. This need isn’t likely to abate anytime soon.
Specifically, IPREX firms report a rise in the increasing sophistication required in using digital and social media tools for the delivery of effective messaging.
Purpose-Driven Work on the Rise
Many corporations supported by IPREX firms are engaging in unprecedented efforts to ensure they are meeting their obligations to all their stakeholders: customers, employees, communities and investors. Corporate social responsibility efforts are moving into new levels of investment and sophistication. IPREX firms report clients are increasingly coming to their agencies for environmental, social and governance (ESG), sustainability and purpose-driven work.
Equity and Systemic Racism Demand Thoughtful Navigation
Set off by events in the U.S. (in particular, the death of George Floyd), but reverberating around the globe, issues of racial and ethnic equity have now been raised to a level of awareness such that brands and organizations cannot sit on the sidelines. Authentic and inclusive voices, as well as clear intentionality, are now reputational commitments being made by IPREX itself, as well as by the clients IPREX agencies serve through their public relations and strategic communications services.