As we set our sights on a (hopefully) more positive year, we’ve taken a slightly different approach to the usual “Trends for the new year” types of article. In this Q&A series – Your View On 2021 – we spoke with a few engaging and bright professionals and entrepreneurs who share their views on 2021. And no, it’s not necessarily about defining trends. The focus is more on sharing positive views, (new) habits, suggestions and what they’re looking forward to in the new year. Cheers to a positive and healthy 2021

Carla de Barros Barbosa is a business consultant and communications expert. She helps to shape the strategic direction and the communications for companies and brands. As a Dutch-Portuguese she operates from Amsterdam and Lisbon.

Carla de Barros Barbosa

What are you looking forward to in 2021?
Freedom, kindness and movement are the things I wish for this year.

Being an experienced entrepreneur in the communications and PR landscape, what changes do you foresee for the industry in 2021?
In my day-to-day business as an independent business and communications strategist, I foresee a number of changes for the industry in 2021.

  • Brand alignment: communication is everywhere, and everybody participates in one way or another. On a daily basis I see companies and brands in search of better alignment in the way they communicate. Not only externally but also amongst departments and their flexible and remote workforce.
  • Rise of the communication expert and their flexible network: communication is playing an increasingly strategic role within organizations. I am hired to help shape the strategic direction of companies and their communications. When the strategy is in place, the next question I am asked is to gather the best-in-class people in certain areas of expertise. To have them assist in the implementation of the strategy and to share their knowledge internally. I definitely see this type of request increasing.
  • Tailor-made communications: with the help of data, messages can be more personalized. If you are communicating with different generations and audiences, that also means information is consumed differently. Communications will become increasingly customized.
  • Further increase of social relevance for brands: communications professionals will keep challenging companies to formulate and communicate their social message. It is becoming a need-to-know. Campaigns will therefore increasingly go in this direction.
  • Reliability: now more than ever, the public is looking for reliable content. Proof points, being a thought leader and a reliable source of information will continue to be an important development in 2021.

Can you tell us a bit more about one of your projects we should be on the lookout for in the new year?
The projects I am going to do are diverse and in different fields. To name a few examples: I am advising a fashion brand on their brand DNA and communications alignment; an entertainment company is celebrating its 50th anniversary and I have been asked to lead the creative communications campaign, I am rolling out the positioning and communications strategy for a corporate finance company, advising on the business strategy of a talent management agency and handling PR for a toy brand.

I know your roots are in Portugal and you’ve done work to promote the country in recent years. Do you believe Portugal is in good shape to bounce back in 2021?
They will definitely bounce back in 2021. Tremendous work has been done on branding Portugal as a diverse country. Portugal has seven very different regions and they have been communicating on the uniqueness of each. It has therefore become one of the most favorite countries to visit amongst a broad audience. The capital city Lisbon was also chosen the Green Capital of 2020.

Portugal is very innovative. That is one of the reasons that many (tech) startups choose it as their home base. During the pandemic, Portugal was one of the first countries to initiate the digital platform Clean & Safe. It gathers information about all participating establishments, allowing tourists to classify the developments regarding compliance with sanitary conditions. They also launched an app to help tourists check how busy for example the beach is before they visit. These kinds of initiatives increased the reliability of Portugal as a safe holiday destination. And last but not least, the warm-hearted people with their customer-oriented service are what tourists remember. Turismo de Portugal has won ‘European’s Leading Destination’ at the Travel Awards of 2020. I am very proud to have worked with them on their communications and PR.

Any recommendations for 2021?
People want to travel again. However, I do feel travel decisions will be made more consciously. Some travel organizations are now supporting local organizations to protect the wildlife and natural habitats around the world. I think that is something to lookout for when making travel plans. On my own bucket list is the island of Madeira!
A book to read? Then I must make use of the opportunity to shamelessly promote the Dutch book: De PR-factor, of which I am the co-author. In 10 steps you will learn how to create newsworthy content.

Finally, on a personal level, what type of changes in your habits or approach to work/life balance are you looking to continue into 2021?
One of my wishes for 2020 was to work remote and do projects from Amsterdam and Lisbon. Even during the pandemic that wish came to fruition. It’s definitely one of the changes I’d like to continue into 2021.