With brands now more visible than ever, but budgets tightening because of Covid-19’s impact (and recession), marketers and communications professionals need to be innovative in how they get their messages across. As they look to increase evaluation, refine content and enhance owned media, a new report offers some insight into how the comms and marketing profession must evolve.
A recent survey published by Isentia and IABC, ‘Comms Agenda 2021’, revealed that 65 percent of communications professionals across Asia-Pacific expect their budgets to decrease in the next 12 months.
Covid-19, and now recession in New Zealand, has re-enforced the importance of an organisation’s communications and marketing teams, and their roles in business strategy. The survey reflects this, finding reputation is the leading focus for professional communicators (14 percent), with most other areas of focus having a clear link to ensuring that reputation is enhanced or maintained. Content strategy will also be prioritised (12 percent) to maintain a consistent message.
However, budget constraints are requiring marketers to innovate how they get this message across. Almost a quarter (24 percent) say new priorities, such as employee engagement and brand reputation, will lead them to review their communications channels and market approach – with one in six (17 percent) focusing on owned media.
Wellington-based Ngaire Crawford, Insights Director ANZ, Isentia says that despite this trend, the majority of brands say the changes won’t effect personnel. “While many organisations are looking to cut costs wherever they can during these uncertain times, it’s interesting to see that 66 percent of organisations will not reduce the size of their communications teams. This alone speaks volumes about the growing importance of comms professionals. Building a bank of knowledge of good strategies, tools and ideas is crucial to ensuring that communicators can capitalise on their work, continuing to build and grow understanding and audience connection.”
Evaluation will also prove key to marketers as pressures grow to maximise ROI. These are set to include stakeholder surveys (15 percent), employee engagement (11 percent) and reputation analysis (9 percent) to find actionable insights.
Informed by the findings of the report, Crawford says that marketers need to be mindful of four key pillars which will shape the profession in a post-pandemic world:
1. Strategy will take centre-stage
Communications professionals will rethink their approach to strategy, focusing on new priorities such as employee engagement and brand reputation. The next 12 months will also see them strive to strike the right balance between internal and external communications for more effective collaboration across functions.
2. Managing and enhancing brand reputation will be the top priority
There is also the need for a consistent brand presence that can stand the test of time and crisis. As such, brand reputation is the leading focus for professional communicators, underpinned by a mix of employee engagement, leadership communications and content strategy – all of which have a direct correlation with enhancing overall corporate reputation.
3. Finding consensus on the right data to enable decision-making will present an opportunity
It’s clear that there is a desire for good research and data to support communications strategy, but there is little consensus on what type of data would be most effective. Measurement in a post-pandemic world will be critical. With the increasing pressure to deliver strong ROI, communication teams will rely heavily on data and measurement tools to have a holistic view of the key reporting dimensions. The Comms Agenda 2021 study reveals survey metrics as the main data point to inform communication strategies over the next 12 months.
4. Leveraging technology to strengthen employer-employee relationship
Communications professionals will turn to technology to make a bigger impact on the lifeblood of their organisations over the next 12 months, with 15 percent wanting to focus on employees and 13 percent on customers. Communication teams will also adopt more tech and automation tools to enhance their brand communications and crisis management strategies.