2020 was a year of change.
Companies that were struggling closed their doors. Businesses that were just starting to find their footing, if they were well positioned, accelerated. A company like Zoom is a remarkable example of how quickly change can grab hold in society. Before COVID-19, at the end of 2019, Zoom had around 10 million daily active meeting participants. Now? They have over 300 million.
Of course, not every business has a story quite like Zoom’s. According to Fortune, more than 100,000 businesses that had originally shut down temporarily have since gone completely out of business. And according to the Wall Street Journal, somewhere between 20 million and 40 million people have lost their jobs since the beginning of the year, depending on how you want to interpret the data. And while Pfizer has the official green light for their coronavirus vaccine from the FDA, it is still going to take a while for our country, along with the rest of the world, to recover.
But especially here in America, that doesn’t mean innovation is slowing down.
If anything, 2020 has ignited a wave of enthusiasm amidst business owners, entrepreneurs, creative employees, and investors. If there was ever a time to solve meaningful problems in society, now is it.
I see it happening here in Los Angeles. Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice houses some of the most expensive real estate in the city. Throughout the pandemic, businesses have had to close their doors and move out — but right behind them are new businesses looking to move in. Startup founders and entrepreneurs have stepped up to the plate to launch new products and services amidst the chaos. Investors have gotten used to fielding pitches on video calls. Europe has seen record levels of tech investment in the startup community this year, betting that business owners and innovators of tomorrow will emerge stronger than ever from these challenging times.
As the New York Times wrote back in May 2020, “Is a Pandemic the Right Time to Start a Business? It Just Might Be.”
There is absolutely a “changing of the times” happening — which means businesses at the forefront of that change have the opportunity to reshape their industry’s narrative.
I have run my own PR agency for almost fifteen years now, specifically focusing on brands and individuals in the world of healthy, active living. And now, more than ever, I am seeing these companies and individuals thrive during a time when many other types of businesses are struggling. Why? Because they have something meaningful to say that is hyper-relevant to the times we’re living in. They are talking about health. They’re reinforcing the importance of and selling products for immunity and vitality, they are helping people take care of themselves and helping manage stress. And they are more resonant than ever because this is what people care about right now. This is what people need right now.
And because of that, these clients are getting press coverage.
In 2021, we are going to see lots of new companies emerge, many of which will be focusing on the pain points that exist today. Not the pain points we had in 2019, or 2018. But the unique pain points that have emerged as a result of facing a global pandemic, managing an economic crisis, and feeling isolated working from home for ten months (or more!). These are the problems people need help with right now: companies and products that are built to solve those problems are going to be the topics of conversation.
Which is why 2021 is the year to invest in public relations if you have a story to tell.
More than ever before, companies with relevant purposes and products will break through and rise above the others.
It’s not about a witty “campaign.” It’s because their products are timely and relevant, and inherently lend themselves to the conversation that’s happening now. Media will want to hear from the founders, executives, investors, and leadership team members of these companies. Columnists will be writing about trends emerging in new spaces. Even popular writers on the internet will want to share their opinions and hot takes on the ways in which the world is moving.
The companies that choose to invest resources during this pivotal time will play an integral role in shaping the narrative.
Investing in public relations is, like anything else, an investment. It may result in immediate pay-off with increased web traffic that leads to sales. Or it may help with long-term brand building and credibility. You may or may not get the results you’re looking for and there are no guarantees.
That said, spending money on anything requires confidence and a “leap of faith” of sorts. And if there was ever a time to double-down on supporting and promoting your business or brand, it would be on the heels of a global pandemic in which your company’s product or service aligns with a real need state.
If you’re selling something that the people need, now’s the time to get the word out and the benefit will be exponential.