Firehouse Partner Matt Terrill Shares 4 Truths To Watch In 2021

February 25, 2021

4 Truths To Watch In 2021

By: Matt Terrill

In June of last year, we shared some truths that were redefining the public affairs and communications industry. Now, with the first few weeks of the New Year already in the rearview mirror, 2021 has cemented how much the challenges of our time have shaped traditional agency operations. As we continue to navigate the new normal together, below are the truths we are watching this year.

Decline of Traditional Advertising

From the campaign trail to corporate board rooms to Main Street America, 2020 and now 2021 have proved the value of the old ways of advertising is declining. In the battle for attention, with more organic mediums and creative ways to impact targeted audiences than ever before, a lot of traditional paid media is wasted. And the proof is in the numbers:

• Approximately $8 billion was spent on political ads during the 2020 cycle, which was the most expensive election in history. Yet, data shows both political parties saw a decline in the return on investment for traditional advertising.

• For example, in the final week of the 2020 presidential election, President Joe Biden outspent former President Trump on TV ads in TexasOhio, and Florida, three states that Biden went on to lose.

• Viewers are turning away from traditional broadcasting platforms: One in three Americans consider watching content on YouTube equivalent to watching TV and 71% of American TV users report using other devices while watching TV.

Authenticity is the Real Currency of this New Era 

Rather than scripted TV commercial breaks, the new battlefield for reaching and persuading audiences is the organic coverage between the ads, which can only be won through content that leads to genuine dialogue. Support from influencers and individuals in audiences’ inner circles who have the ear, trust, and respect of those you are looking to persuade is what truly matters.

• 92% of millennials trust an influencer on social media more than a celebrity.

• 88% of consumers say they have purchased something based on an influencer’s recommendation.

• 83% of Americans are more interested in purchasing a product or service that was verbally recommended by a friend or family member.

After a food influencer’s recipe video for pasta with feta cheese went viral on TikTok, social media users reported that feta was sold out in grocery stores across the country.

24-7 News Cycle is now the 24-Second News Cycle

The world has moved on from the 24-7 news cycle to a 24-second news cycle. Speed matters now more than ever, so many members of the media and influencers are taking to their social media handles and digital platforms before penning an article or hitting the airwaves. With more Americans getting their news in the palms of their hands, relationships with online journalists and influencers will strengthen your ability to get your message in front of audiences in real-time.

• 63% of journalists indicate online/digital platforms as the medium they primarily report in.

• 86% of Americans get their news from digital devices.

• Over half of U.S. adults say they receive news through social media “often” or “sometimes.”

Leaning Into Your Truth

Companies, organizations, and leaders must not only strive to attract attention in an authentic fashion but make certain the messages they are promoting are genuine as well. As we continue to hold important discussions surrounding the issues of our time, industry leaders must ensure their rhetoric matches their records.

• 86% of consumers say authenticity is a key factor when choosing which brands to support.

• 81% of consumers state they need to be able to trust a brand to do what is right in order to support it.

• Gen Z and Millennials are more likely to place greater emphasis on ethical matters when contemplating which brands to trust and 77% of consumers purchase from brands who support the same values that they do.