Goodbye 2020 and hello 2021. What will the new year hold?

As we move into 2021, it’s an inevitable time of reflection for all of us – especially after everything 2020 threw at us and the fact we start the new year already in lockdown. Again. This time last year, I was full of hopes and ambitions for empr but couldn’t possibly have predicted what the following 12 months would bring.

It certainly was a year of highs and lows. For a ‘microbusiness’ like mine, the coronavirus pandemic brought huge challenges. Many of empr’s clients are small business across sectors including retail and hospitality – some of the worst hit by the effects of lockdowns and the tier system. For businesses of this size, PR can often be seen as a luxury.

Unsurprisingly, margins are tight so when times get tough, anything that isn’t absolutely vital to the running of the business has to go. Yet at the same time, at times like these PR is simultaneously invaluable in sharing news of innovation and adaptation, of grabbing those all-important extra customers, and of driving potential revenue. A difficult for decision for any small business to make.

At empr, I firmly believe in building long-term relationships with my clients and if 2020 taught me anything, it’s that this really is as important as I thought it was. Through some of the toughest months going, my clients and i worked together to find a way through and to do everything we could to keep them afloat, which in turn obviously kept my own business going too. It’s at moments like this that business relationships move past being solely transactional and become about something a bit more fulfilling for both sides, and that’s something I will never move away from.

The result of collaborative working and long-term relationships meant that empr retained its clients in 2020 and added a few more to the list. While sharing the difficulties encountered by companies like Albie & Lonnie’s, Loxleys Restaurant and Wine Bar, and Bath Soft Cheese have been difficult stories to tell, they have also been a source of positivity as these businesses refused to be beaten by tough economic times and it’s been great to see them across national and regional media, both in print and on radio and TV right up to the very end of the year.

While 2020 brought a raft of challenges for many businesses, others have also used the time to push on with planned changes and to revamp websites, work on marketing material, and think about where they want to go. It’s been a delight to work with new clients on copy for their website and online presence, as well as on advertising and marketing materials ready for brighter times ahead.

And then there was the CIPR Diploma. It’s never easy juggling academic study with full-time work – plus a global pandemic – but I was delighted to pass in 2020 and am already enjoying putting my new skills and knowledge to use to help my clients.

In terms of what 2021 will hold, who can possibly know? It will undoubtedly still be difficult for small business, and for the businesses and consultants who help them. But if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that long-term relationships, collaborative working, passion, enthusiasm and grit, really do go a long, long way. There are the values empr always has – and will continue to – operate by.

Here’s to making the best we possibly can of 2021.