ASDA’A BCW's Sunil John explores what's in store for the communications industry in 2021.
What does 2021 look like for the communications industry?
My outlook for the communications sector for 2021, especially for our region, is positive, underpinned by growing confidence in the new geopolitical order that the Middle East witnesses today.
The Abraham Accords has been a game-changer and ushers in a new era of peace and opportunity that is unprecedented. Additionally, high-profile events such as Expo Dubai and the International Monetary Fund-World Bank Meetings in Morocco in 2021 will put the global spotlight on the region, adding more opportunities for the communication sector.
Further, the communications sector will gain from the renewed public confidence in travel following the Covid vaccine, which will energize the tourism, retail, and hospitality sectors – the core areas that were most impacted by the pandemic.
What changes will happen to the business model in the industry?
2020 has been a year of transformation for the industry. It accelerated our move towards embracing a digital-first, integrated, and creative operating model. We saw a significant overhaul of the media and communications model following the pandemic, and those who responded fast with agility and flexibility have weathered the crisis and emerged more resilient.
I have seen from the experience of the 2008-2011 global financial crisis and the oil price slump that brands and organizations that invest in relevant and meaningful communications during a downturn are disproportionately rewarded as the markets come back. As consumer spending returns in 2021 – and we already see the positive uptick – a continuous engagement driven by public relations will lead to enduring equity.
More than ever, the PR industry has demonstrated its strength during the pandemic, and the value-add we provided our clients will be a catalyst for growth in 2021.
With many brands pivoting to digital, how will the communications industry adapt?
With more brands pivoting to digital, every organization has become data-led. However, the challenge that prevails is that data is being siloed for services such as performance marketing.
The real value of data and digital can be gained when its potential is leveraged to build brand reputation and business enhancement. For the communications industry, this means not just looking at shared media driven by content and influencer marketing, or owned media led by web assets, but unlocking the real value of earned media through creative, integrated PR strategies.
With earned media at its core, the PR industry will need to amplify its shared and owned share of voice. This is the transformation we will witness in 2021, reinforcing the role of the communications industry in promoting brand equity and value.