By Brett Zielke

As a result of COVID-19, 2020 has been a challenging year and that has meant communicators have had to become creative in how they launch campaigns, connect with their target audiences, and how they keep companies united while working apart. Here are my top five communications trends since the global pandemic was declared.

Shift to videoconferencing: The mass exodus from offices has meant that traditional means of communicating within an office were rendered moot. With in-person townhalls and quick breakout meetings no longer an option, companies have had to quickly and adeptly redevelop how meetings are conducted. In the early stages of working from home, companies turned to programs such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom to conduct meetings. Their use continues to grow – Zoom’s customer numbers have increased to 370, 200 in just four months. Many of whom are converting from Zoom’s free platform to its paid platform.

Maintaining a sense of community while we work from home, has become a priority for employers.

Increase in Social Engagement: In the last several months, there has been considerable growth in how much time people are spending on social media, specifically Facebook and Instagram. One article reported an average increase of 44 engagements per day. Industries such as health care, consumer goods and entertainment saw the largest increases. Interestingly, engagement in industries that were less top of mind such as sports, retail and non-profit fields saw a considerable decrease.

Promoting Diversity and Inclusivity: The recent civil unrest in the US and racial tensions closer to home have further illustrated how important culture, inclusion and diversity are to Canadians. Brands have seen this and realized the need to make authentic efforts to include minorities and publicly support equality. Companies such as Nike, and Proctor & Gamble have taken huge strides in recent years to be more inclusive in their marketing and communications strategies. If organizations aren’t aware of this shift, they face being boycotted.

Promoting Local Businesses More Than Ever: During the height of the pandemic, with everyone stuck indoors with few places to go and many local businesses struggling, there was a shift in promoting healthy living at home, while also supporting the local economy. The City of Calgary created an online campaign – #SupportLocalYYC to encourage the support of local businesses during these uncertain times. The campaign appeals to our need for community by encouraging the sharing of good news stories across social media channels. They even created icons for public use across social platforms.

Greater Focus on Employee Health: Many companies have transitioned to allow their employees to work remotely. However, with the loss of colleague interaction, there was an increased concern in both employee mental health, and how to create a sense of community from afar. Things such as “Happy Hour” video calls at the end of the week, virtual morning check-in meetings, and sharing (appropriate) funny pictures and videos, have proven to be a great way for people to maintain connection. Feeling connected to community, whether it’s a professional or personal one, helps to keep people’s spirits up.

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