sub newsletter

2021 Planning: How COVID-19 Changed Press Release Trends?


As 2021 unfolds, businesses are treading the year with caution as the COVID-19 situation continues to develop with new strains and resurgence of cases across APAC. To gain a better projection and understanding of how the pandemic might shape press releases in 2021, we analyzed press release trends in key industries, from healthcare, technology to events, last year and how they were affected by the health crisis. (For each industry, we have also added the % increase in press release volume from 2019.)

1. Volume of healthcare-related press releases (+60%) 


During the pandemic, demand for medical products and services such as masks, vaccines and medical research and development and treatments soared and these topics became much-talked-about news topics. In 2020, PR Newswire distributed 7,487 healthcare-related press releases – an increase of 60% from 2019. 

Indonesia's leading paint company PT Mowilex to Screen Its Workers with COVID-19 Tests from Abbott. (Photo: PT Mowilex Indonesia)
Indonesia’s leading paint company PT Mowilex to Screen Its Workers with COVID-19 Tests from Abbott. (Photo: PT Mowilex Indonesia)


Compared to 2019, there were increasein key related topics such as new drugs/ products (104%), clinical trials/medical discoveries (65%) and new contracts (42%)The outlook for the healthcare industry this year looks set to be promising, with developments such as the production and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in the APAC region.  

2. Volume of technology-related press releases (+6%)  


COVID-19 has accelerated digital adoption in businesses with more people harnessing the power of technology such as 5G, Big Data and cloud technology. In 2020, PR Newswire distributed 16,626 technology-related press releases – a 6% increase from 2019. The spike was more pronounced in the second half of last year. Technology-related press release on topics such as corporate social responsibility increased by 197%, while releases on new products and services went up by 25%. 

3. Volume of press releases on exhibitions/trade shows (-39%)  


A slew of exhibitions and conferences around the world were cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic. PR Newswire distributed 5,967 business events-related press releases last year – a 39% decrease from in 2019. The outlook for the industry seemed promising at the start of last year – the volume of press releases on Consumer Electronics Show (CES) distributed in 2020 was higher than in 2019. However, the cancellation of major events like the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and Hannover Messe in Germany sparked the disruption of numerous large-scale events around the world. 

Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau Sets Up First Milestone of
Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau Sets Up First Milestone of “Thailand LOG-IN Events”. (Photo: TCEB)


The average decline of events-related press releases went up to 62% from February to July. The events industry only showed signs of recovery from September. By November to December, the volume of distribution of events press release returned to pre-COVID-19 levels.  

4. Volume of investor relations press releases  (+10%) 


COVID-19 plunged the global economy into its worst recession.  This has made mergers and acquisitionsfinancing and IPO activities more challenging. Despite thispress release distribution data from PR Newswire shows that investor relations activities have not waned. Last year, 1,616 related press releases were issued – a 10% year-on-year increaseThe volume of IR-related press release in the Q4 was significantly higher than last year. This is especially so in December when the number of these press releases peaked for the year. Among them, there was an increase in the volume of press releases on topics such as venture capitals (37%), mergers and acquisitions (14%) and IPO from last May to November.  

5. Volume of corporate social responsibility press releases (+80%)  


PR Newswire distributed 1,772 press releases on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in 2020 – an 80% increase of 2019. The bulk of CSR press releases from last February to June touched on efforts by companies in response to COVID-19 pandemic. In February, the number of CSR-related releases increased 10-fold compared to last year, while the number of press releases on public health and safety increased by 554% 

Volunteers from Sands China and local community groups build hygiene kits at The Venetian Macao Dec. 4 for the Clean the World. (Photo: Sands China)
Volunteers from Sands China and local community groups build hygiene kits at The Venetian Macao Dec. 4 for the Clean the World. (Photo: Sands China)


PR Newswire offered complimentary distribution services for COVID-19-related press releases last year Through press releases, infographics and short videos, companies could share their initiatives and contributions to alleviate the effects of the pandemic. The pandemic accelerated the pace of CSR projects and heightened a sense of social responsibility.  

6. Volume of press releases on new products/services (+14%)  


Despite the pandemic, the pace of product and service launches did not slow down. In fact, the distribution volume of such press releases intensified. PR Newswire distributed 7,453 press releases on new products and services – a 14% increase from 2019. Since the gradual recovery of the economy, the amount of such press releases has been increasing significantly. New products and services came with new features – the rise of online services and a greater emphasis on meeting the health and safety standards to assure customers.  

 7. International & RCEP press release distribution (+5%) 


Many events and conferences around the world were cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic. As a result, online broadcasts and communications with the media have become more important and press releases have become one of the main channels of distributing information.  

As of last November, the number of press releases distributed overseas saw a 5% year-on-year increase, especially to North America and Europe. New products and services and exhibition/conference news remain the key topics of such releases. 

There was also an increase in the number of press releases distributed to countries in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) zone. These countries include Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.  

In general, the demand for press releases has not been greatly diminished due to COVID-19. Companies are still paying attention to which comms channels that offer the best returns and coverage. Some have maintained their momentum of issuing news announcements and are considering increasing their PR budgets. With the economy gradually recovering, the mindset of doing corporate communications will be positively impacted.  


Interested to write or distribute a press release? Contact us for more information.


This article is written by Kenneth Goh, Senior Marketing Executive at PR Newswire. A former journalist, he relishes keeping track of breaking news as much as telling stories with trends and data. Connect with him via Linkedin.