Well, what a year 2020 was.
As we enter a third national lockdown with hopes of improvement by the spring, here are four reasons why 2021 is the year to invest in PR.
1. Because technology is a part of our lives like never before
Stuck at home during the pandemic, many of us are spending more of our lives online. We are using our devices for work, socialising, shopping, exercise and entertainment.
This may have changed how your business connects with customers.
You can no longer meet in person with teachers or carry out live demos of your products. So, many business leaders find themselves asking how to connect with their audience in an authentic way.
One way is to meet your audience where they are: online.
Using digital PR and communications, you can connect with current and prospective customers via your online channels.
You can find the right way to reach parents and teachers, whether it’s through online campaigns, virtual events, blogs or video testimonials.
2. To take advantage of a rise in social media and influencer culture
If your business isn’t engaging effectively with customers on social media, then your business isn’t properly communicating with customers.
In the last year, all social media apps reported an increase in usage.
The likes of YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok, which allow people to create, upload and share videos, have become increasingly popular. Last year, nine in 10 online adults, and almost all older children aged 8 to 15 years, used at least one of these websites and apps, and many watched videos several times a day.
Running integrated campaigns on social media is key to successful business communications.
Choose a theme that relates to your education product, create a key campaign message and be sure to track engagement. Make sure you use the right platform for your campaign and that it’s timely.
Consider partnering with a social media influencer who fits with your brand values and audience. They can help you reach your target audience, build trust, and increase engagement. This could be a blogger, journalist or podcaster. It could be a well-known teacher, edtech expert or education consultant.
Investing in social media will help you connect with current and prospective clients, boost awareness and increase leads.
3. So you can gain your audience’s trust
Think about what your customers consider When deciding whether to buy your education product or service. Has this changed since the same time last year?
Recognise changes in your customers and their needs. Whether it’s spending power, ways of working, or challenges in education during the pandemic. And allay any fears or concerns.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 88% of us rate ‘trust’ as important or critical when it comes to deciding which brands to buy or use. Out of 8,000 people surveyed in 8 countries in October 2020, ‘trust’ was the third most important purchase criteria, with ‘price’ and ‘quality’ only slightly ahead, regardless of gender, nationality, age or income.
Personal experience matters the most when it comes to building trust. If your business can communicate with clients through friends, family, experts and reviews from trusted sources, then you’ve taken a step in the right direction in helping them to trust you and your business offering.
PR activities like product reviews, case studies, video testimonials and influencer campaigns can all help to strengthen trust among your target audience.
4. To help you manage a PR crisis
Last year was crisis, followed by crisis, followed by crisis.
The coronavirus outbreak, civil unrest and economic downturn.
An impeachment trial, a contested presidential election and a wave of international protests leading to a moment of reckoning on racism.
Not to mention natural disasters like wildfires, earthquakes and floods.
If we’ve learnt anything from 2020, it’s to be as prepared as we can be for a crisis. A well-managed crisis can actually win your brand fans rather than lose them, so the third lockdown may be an opportunity to reflect on how you would manage a crisis.
PR crisis planning means having guidelines in place for an emergency or unexpected situation.
How is your company going to react if the lockdown lasts longer than expected? What will your company do if there was a breach of school data? Or if your education software that teachers rely on for online learning has technological issues?
Don’t get caught off guard.
Identify the risks to your education business, rank them in order of seriousness and put a plan in place for each one.
Your crisis plan should outline your response to stakeholders such as customers, employees and the media. It needs to include key messaging for all of your business platforms, including social media. And make sure your spokesperson is media trained.
Check out our ‘cut out and keep’ guide to crisis management here.
The best time to start planning your PR is now.
Don’t put it off for another day. Who knows what this year has in store!
If you’re ready to start planning your PR for 2021, get in touch today on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or have a read of our PR planning guide for some more top tips.