The COVID-19 news stories aren’t going anywhere until COVID does, and many housing comms professionals are concerned that media outlets are only interested in stories that relate to the virus.
Here at See Media, we believe there’s actually plenty of proactive comms work to be getting on with in 2021.
So, whether you’re searching for silver linings, or feel the need to ground your work – and, indeed, yourself – in something other than the pandemic, here are six trends to get excited about this year.
1. Internal comms will continue to enjoy the spotlight
The pandemic has led to increased investment in internal comms. When new safety measures were introduced into workplaces in March 2020, and those who could work from home were told to stay there, one thing was key to this transition – communication, communication, communication.
For many organisations, it took a global crisis for internal comms teams to be given the spotlight they deserve — and it continues to shine, with new ways of working placing higher importance on professional and personal wellbeing, and the ways in which companies must play their part.
In 2020, the See Media team got involved in a number of projects to help our clients build channels to engage with their own people.
Using technology, such as micro-websites and podcasting, 2021 will be the year in which organisations make huge progress in terms of breaking down unsustainable working silos, and gathering more data on the effectiveness of their new internal comms strategies.
2. Digital transformation will happen at a renewed pace
Microsoft estimates that at the start of the pandemic we saw two years of digital transformation in just two months. A whole host of virtual tools were forged in the metaphorical fire that was 2020, with organisations needing to find new ways of connecting with residents, suppliers, industry partners and employees.
2021 is all about taking these new tools and using them proactively, rather than reactively. With all of us being that bit more receptive to change and quicker to adapt to new online tools, be on the lookout for the next big thing around the corner.
3. Events will be increasingly accessible
While many of us are missing the complimentary food and drink that comes with attending face-to-face events, no longer having to commute in order to network, learn and celebrate, has opened lots of doors.
Instead of simply signing up to the events you’ve always attended, 2021 is the year in which to refresh your calendar — the world is now your oyster. There are lots of ways to participate in events this year —here are some to keep in mind for award entries, speaking opportunities and staying connected with sector peers and colleagues.
4. Community support will be even more important
As with any social emergency, those who are being hit hardest by the current crisis are those who had seen tough times already. Working within social and affordable housing, we are proud to have seen the work many in the sector are doing to be proactive landlords that do far more than provide and manage homes.
More than Homes, an ongoing industry-wide initiative, is working to raise funds for the Trussell Trust’s network of food banks. It is also highlighting the ways housing providers are supporting residents and community members, and using the UK housing sector’s collective voice to tackle the stigma often attached to receiving social support.
5. Housing development will be crucial for the economy
The government’s response to 2020’s economic downturn and its response to the housing crisis has been the same – “build back better”, build more homes, and fairer, greener more resilient economies.
New government measures and regulations should make it easier to build and convert residential properties across the UK, and housing developers and housing associations are seeing the opportunity to grow, hire new people, and get closer to their visions for housing delivery.
Housing comms will be playing a major part in this, pushing forward with public relations and stakeholder engagement when new developments are happening, and sharing the good news about this action taken towards tackling the housing crisis.
6. We will all continue to be desperate for some good news
Amidst some of the worst weeks of the pandemic, we all need some positivity. For housing, a brand-new conduit for good news stories has arrived this month. Many will remember 24Housing publication – its past editors John Land and Mark Lawrence are now working with the Housing Quality Network to bring us HQM (Housing Quality Magazine). This publication could be just what we need to publicly celebrate the amazing work that’s being done by housing providers.
Also, during 2021, there has to be an emphasis on supporting at-risk local newspapers, by providing them with tales of hope, collaboration and recovery.
At See Media, we look forward to supporting all our clients throughout this year. We hope it will turn out to be a more positive one for everybody.
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Naomi Bennett is PR and Communications Assistant at See Media