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International Posted 26 Feb 2021

2021: A New Era for Communications and Public Affairs in Asia ahead

One of our valued partners in Asia, the Klareco teams from the firm’s offices across Southeast Asia recently hosted their first webinar of the year to answer the question: Is 2021 2020 2.0, or is it a new year?  We asked the Klareco founders Shih-Huei Ang and Mark Worthington to share the insights and learnings from the session and were surprised to find that views are not all too different to those we see in the UK.

Klareco 2021 A New Era of Communications and Public Affairs

Communications professionals, including marketing and communications leaders from big corporates, brands and trade organisations across SEA were polled to get to the bottom of what 2021 has in store – and views were not all dictating a clear direction.

The result:
53% of communications professionals in the region are viewing 2021 as 2020 2.0.

It’s true, as the pandemic rages on at different paces across the world, it’s no longer a shocking or ‘new’ event. We have all adjusted to the uncomfortable idea that this is a semi-permanent dislocation, not just from other countries, but from our families and workplaces. As perspectives change, it’s up to businesses to carve out their path, and work out how they will communicate and how they can have a voice on the things that matter to them, and their audiences.

Here are the key takeaways from the session that communications professionals should keep top of mind for 2021:

1. Adaptability and agility will distinguish leaders from the competition

World leaders, health professionals and governments around the world have done their best to inform and advise societies on recovery and reopening, yet rarely has this resulted in a smooth path to a ‘new normal’. The same goes for business communication. Leaders must remain agile and pivot where necessary to ensure their offering is relevant to the changing business and customer agenda. The path ahead will be full of twists and turns that are avoidable in today’s climate, adaptation, and keeping an open mind on how your business might need to change as a result of external forces, is key.

2. Communicating transparently and with empathy is key to maintaining goodwill

We polled our audience to find out what their communications priorities were for 2021. The results revealed that for 39 percent of participants, transparent and open communications is key. Included in this is the need to display ‘positive purpose’, which 25 percent of our audience are prioritising this year. For many, this means putting people before profits and looking after the physical and mental health of our employees in a way that has never been so important. People need reassurance, no matter their personal circumstances, transparent and empathetic communication is no longer a ‘nice thing to do’, its crucial and businesses will be held accountable. Finally, just 6 percent of our audience will be focusing on localisation of content and messaging.

3. Breaking down geographical borders will facilitate effective communications with your audiences

A mere 6 percent of our audience are prioritising localisation shows an overarching recognition for the fact that borders matter less now than they ever have before. We are all physically separated from one-another – and in many ways this has presented more opportunities for businesses to communicate with those outside their immediate locale. For example, it no longer matters if your spokesperson isn’t in the same country as the journalist your PR team are engaging with. We are all united by the pandemic, albeit experiencing it at different paces, and this has allowed the world to be more interconnected than before.

4. Diversifying communications channels will expose your audience to new opportunities

A challenge to cross-border communication is knowing that channels to prioritise in what markets. For example, Facebook is the network of choice for those in Myanmar, but it is losing its importance for some audiences in the Western world. With 2020 keeping us all at home, it also saw the increase in popularity of new and emerging channels – none of us missed the front-page grabbing rise of TikTok. To ensure that your communications continue to reach your current customers whilst reaching new audiences, leaders must ensure they are keeping pace with new and emerging channels.

5. Finally, and most importantly, 2021 is the year of ‘The Great Reset’. Be prepared for an (un)predictable year ahead

‘The Great Reset’ is the theme of this year’s World Economic Forum, this year’s edition is scheduled to be held in Singapore in August. The theme is intended to encapsulate the many varying and hard-hitting agenda items at the Forum, but it rings true for each and every business, entity and human being this year.

One thing is for sure in the world of communications and that’s that the editorial agenda is shifting and business should look to the future, there is change upon us all. The companies who will succeed this year will be the ones who can priorities the key takeaway’s we have outlined through robust and insightful communications that speak directly to their target audiences.

Authors:


Ang Shih-Huei
CEO and Co-Founder, Klareco Communications


Mark Worthington
Managing Director and Co-Founder, Klareco Communications

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