Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The pandemic has caused a worldwide shift in the habits of consumers, workplace settings, travel opportunities and our overall day-to-day lives. Many businesses have had to completely overhaul their operations to adjust and accommodate for lockdowns, social distancing and Covid-19 outbreaks, forcing them to implement a new workplace environment.

As we head into a new year, most of us are wondering: What will 2022 bring?

If there is one thing we have all learned throughout the pandemic, it’s that we can’t predict the future.

The shift to a work-from-home and virtual work environment has impacted many industries, including the public relations industry.

Throughout the pandemic, some trends have emerged to help PR firms to navigate the new normal.

Get creative with building relationships

While PR is known for being a creative industry, having to do so in a virtual environment has provided its own unique challenges. Meeting in person is no longer an easy option, challenging PR professionals to find new ways to meet with media contacts to form, build and maintain relationships. These relationships are key to the success of media pitches and story pickups, so creativity is required to find ways to stay connected and top of mind with reporters in a virtual world.

Think outside the media box

With many people continuing to work from home, their habits for absorbing media have also changed. The commute to and from work looked different for everyone, however for many people this was a time to catch up on news, whether through the radio, a tablet or a newspaper. PR professionals will need to work with their clients to understand the end customer and craft their messaging to work within the format of media that the customer is using. This can mean working with relevant and targeted video series and podcast production teams to find opportunities to include the client’s content alongside their planned show.

Related: How to Leverage Artificial Intelligence in Public Relations

Client brand and image

How companies have handled the pandemic and supported their employees throughout the course of the last two years has become a large focus for current and prospective employees. Many industries continue to struggle with hiring and retaining top talent, with employees leaving for companies that provide a more conducive work environment to their needs.

The ability to continue to work remotely and have flexibility within the workday to handle household and familial tasks has become a top driver of employee movement, with employees looking to have a job that works with their life. The increased awareness of workplace diversity and inclusion has also been a driving force of employee movement, with people wanting to work for a company where they will feel accepted, included and important regardless of their race, sexuality or physical abilities. For PR firms, this means working with their clients to emphasize the client’s brand as a top employer so prospective employees see them as a company they want to work for. This is not only important for the client to hire and retain talented employees, but also for the customer to see them as a supportive employer that cares about their employees and treats them equally and fairly.

Related: What Van Halen Can Teach You About Public Relations

The PR and marketing grey area

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, marketing and PR were very separate areas with different goals. In the new normal, these teams are having to work closely together in support of the larger brand message of the client. Consumers are more brand aware and want to know that they are spending their money to support a brand that is doing good things for their employees and the world. As a result, PR firms need to include supportive brand awareness messaging with their pitches and provide market trend feedback to the marketing teams to stay on top of the newest, upcoming trends.

Flexibility and trend monitoring are more important than ever for PR professionals in this new world.

With constant change being an inevitable fact of life, PR firms will need to remain nimble to be able to support their clients and provide them with the best recommendations for maximum visibility.

Related: Is Your Brand Ready for Public Relations and Press?

This article is from Entrepreneur.com

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