communicating in 2021 - nhbr - Matt Cookson

What will you do differently? Communicating in 2021

After an eight-year hiatus, Matt Cookson is returning to the classroom to teach an introduction to public relations class at UNH Manchester. In 2007, he created the course to introduce students to the history of PR, ethics and some classic crisis communications textbook case studies (like the Tylenol poisonings from 1982 and the Exxon Valdez disaster from 1989). However, like many other industries, PR has continued to evolve to match the needs of the world around us.

So, after revising the syllabus to include new tools and current event case studies, here are three things businesses should keep in mind when communicating as we enter a new year.

Virtual meetings are here to stay.

From migrating in-person lectures and events to online platforms, the transition in how we communicate turned out to be easier than we expected. In fact, Zoom and similar programs gave us the opportunity to pull in guest speakers from all over the world and allowed us to learn whenever, wherever.

Public relations encompasses more forms of outreach than just traditional media.

Although the goal of public relations has not changed, the tools certainly have. From 24-7 news cycles that are available on Facebook Live and TikTok to owned media on one’s website that can be found through Search Engine Optimization, PR is a holistic business strategy that includes numerous methods of communications.

The world is constantly changing and growing. So should communications.

From the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections to COVID-19 and even Tom Brady leaving New England for Tampa Bay, the world is rich with case studies. The lesson here is we need to constantly update our communications strategies to reflect the times.


If your organization is still operating with a communications plan that reads like a 2012 textbook, 2021 might be a good year to update it to reflect these new times.

Read Matt Cookson’s full article, “What will you do differently in 2021?,” as featured in New Hampshire Business Review.

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