What will 2021 bring in terms of communication? Bepublic’s colleagues shed some light on the lessons learned in 2020 and on how communication will evolve in 2021.

About media relations and contact with journalists

“COVID-19 also turned the news desks upside down last year. Journalists are less physically present in the editorial office. If you want to get the right journalist on the phone for your story, avoid the office numbers. More than ever, go for personal contacts with the journalists. Contact them on their mobile number via Whatsapp, sms or just call them. That way you don’t run the risk of your story getting put on hold”. Bert Bouserie

About reputation management

The focus of reputation management will shift even more from quantitative criteria to qualitative criteria. From focus on mere visibility to focus on relevant content, authenticity and credibility. It is not the number of references in the media which counts, but the strength of the content. After all, a song bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Jurgen D’Ours

“The COVID-19 pandemic also highlighted the importance for small businesses to communicate through the media. By making their (personal) stories public, they increased their visibility.  This was important in order to stay afloat or to show how they were helping to find solutions to the crisis. This gave small entrepreneurs a taste for communication. That is why we will hear more from them in 2021.  In fact, we will have to hear them. Focusing on media communication will be important in their continuing growth.”Sander Vanlouwe

About storytelling

“This pandemic clearly shows that a strong story keeps people together while a weak, flawed story plays them apart. Think of the call by governments and virologists to have all 11 million Belgians act as one against the virus. The parallel with companies is easy to make. Here too it is important to present a strong, authentic and honest story, in order to get all internal and external stakeholders on board”.Arno Creve

About digital communication

“The coronary pandemic has caused a huge online shift: everyone had to suddenly switch. Social media were also used more and more, not only to keep in touch with family and friends, but also with customers. Facebook Lives and other live streams experienced a huge boost. This will continue to be the case in 2021.  What’s more, as a company you can continue to focus on personal content on social media, turn your company into an open kitchen and let experts on social media have their say. In other words, make sure that people are in the picture, not just your services.”Tiffany Mestdagh

 “Digital communication also goes beyond being actively present on social media. Companies are investigating which channels and digital resources they can add to their communication mix. Think of podcasts and roundtable discussions to share expertise, or their own company radio to keep homeworkers informed about what’s going on in the company”.Arno Creve

About crisis communication

 “Over the past year, everyone has become somewhat of a crisis communicator. After all, the COVID-19 crisis is creating different crises for each of us, some small, some large. And they call for anticipation, response and above all: communication. Even after the COVID-19 crisis, we will undoubtedly expect different things from communication. Anyone who does not yet communicate proactively and digitally will miss the boat to the new standard of communication set by COVID-19.”Lisa Kaspers

“Clear, transparent, emotionally involved and speaking with a single voice. These are the main lessons we have learned from the press conferences of these last few months. Those lessons also apply to companies and organisations. Crisis communication should not leave any scope for interpretation. In addition, the press conferences also emphasised the importance of good media relations. You always prepare them before a crisis erupts. Who writes about you? Those journalists need to get to know companies better in 2021. Because you can overcome a crisis more easily when working with the media.”Sander Vanlouwe

About training & coaching

“Video is and will remain important in your organisation’s communication mix. You can use video on your own social media channels. But allow yourself to be guided in this area, so that you (or your colleagues) don’t make a fool of yourselves. Use plain language and no jargon, keep the message simple and concrete and therefore no woolly, meaningless marketing slang. And do not forget to take care of your physical appearance and your pronunciation. The final result will invariably look better.” Gunter Huyghe

About events

“It remains to be seen if events can be organised again in 2021 as was the case in, say, 2019, but in the future some issues relating to events seem to become essential. It goes without saying that every event will have to think even more about how it invites large audiences and about the risks and consequences of such a gathering. The challenge for organisers will not only be to let people connect with your event, but to let all those present connect with each other. Networking remains the most important thing. In addition, the demand for quality events will only increase, both in terms of content and experience. The market share of hybrid events, where digital and physical go hand in hand, can only increase.”Laura Vandenbergh