Thought Leadership

No Going Back After COVID — Communications Trends for 2021


Last year marked one of the most tumultuous times in history. A global pandemic, economic downturns, political uncertainty and broad public protest over racial inequality had an insurmountable impact. The effects will be felt this year and beyond and fuel the10company’s top 10 2021 communications trends, each with significant implications for companies and executives:

1. Empathy is essential. After dealing daily with the health and financial concerns for employees and their families in a COVID world, genuine empathy will underpin all communications as never before.

2. Avoid remote culture shock. Even when we return to normal, working virtually will remain a reality. The imperative is creating a unique culture for all employees when many will not be in the office full-time — or at all.

3. Virtual virtuosos are the next wave. Mastering virtual meetings have become must-have skills. Now that everyone is getting used to Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Meetings and other technologies, the ability to deliver engaging, interactive internal and external events and presentations will be elevated.

4. The definition of “employee” expands. Internal communication goes beyond the employee. In the work-from-home environment, companies will put greater emphasis on including family members in considerations and communications.

5. Everyone gets a vote. Building consensus will guide strategic decisions more than ever. Following 2020’s dramatic events, expect more appreciation for getting input from many sources before making big and little policy decisions, as well as the ways to communicate them.

6. Global is good again. With a new U.S. administration in place, engagement with the world on key issues will be back. Companies need to explain their points of view and actions to the average American, as well as the subsequent benefits of playing on a world stage again.

7. Purpose matters more. Talk turns to action as a result of the numerous racial, gender and economic social movements that are having real influence. The chief communications officer can help define and drive their company’s purpose, values and actions to ensure that all audiences understand what their company stands for.

8. A skills-refresh optimizes opportunities. Reskilling receives renewed investment and importance. Programs that teach new skills and boost technical proficiency can benefit all — no matter your race, gender or educational background. Communications will play a key role in promoting the vision and programs.

9. Navigating social platforms is critical.  It’s not just LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. TikTok and new players, such as WTSocial (a non-toxic social network), Elpha (devoted to career-building women) and Signal (encrypted messaging app) may all be on the list. Prioritizing and leveraging the right outlets is crucial.

10. Can we trust each other? Instilling trust is the 2021 challenge. After a year of fake news, political rhetoric and COVID testing and vaccine concerns, every organization must double down on authenticity, transparency and honesty to build back trust.

Valerie Di Maria is principal at the10company, a strategic marketing and communications agency. This is an edited version of a post that first appeared on the10company blog.

[Photo credit: dragana gordic]

About the author

Valerie Di Maria


  • There is no denying that 2020 was a year full of change. As PR practitioners it is our job to stay informed on current trends and adapt accordingly. I enjoyed reading about the 2021 trends listed in this blog and believe applying them will be beneficial to our communication efforts going forward. It’s especially important to maintain transparency in order to build back up, or continue to build, trust among our audiences. Our audiences will engage in and better understand our messages when trust is solidified.

  • The top 10 communication trends for 2021 are vital to the success of companies. The year 2020 has indefinitely transformed our methods of communication. Technology has made it possible to connect with large or small groups of people from anywhere around the world. These advancements have increased the probability of working from home and even attending class on snow days. Individuals around the world have been asked to continue working virtually indefinitely while others prefer this option due to the uncertainties of COVID-19. This form of communication for occupations will only become more of a reality. Another issue that has greatly impacted society is the decline of trust in the government, professionals and the media. I believe this is the most important element of communication in 2021. People are less apt to believe sources, even credible ones, due to the constant and abundance of misinformation. By establishing trust In 2021, it is important to understand the challenges and transitions that society underwent in order to maintain effective communication.

  • I completely agree with this blog. we are not the same after living through a pandemic therefore our communication will never be the same. Living through a pandemic has caused a world full of anxiety. As we see the light at the end of the road we have to take into account that society may not bounce back to what it once was. Many people have taken into account what is truly important in their lives when everything shut down in March of 2020. So the 10 steps of how to step back into communication after the pandemic is very effective and takes into account what the work went through and how to work toward moving forward.

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