As businesses reposition themselves as in the aftermath of lockdown, new stakeholder attitudes, combined with financial and organisational challenges, suggest corporate comms teams need to be prepared to navigate a very different future.
In a recent survey conducted by Speak Media in partnership with the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), 81% of corporate comms leaders said that the content that they create is likely to change post-pandemic. But, as companies address the shifting perspectives of customers and other stakeholders, how should their content change – and how should communicators be adapting?
A focus on internal comms
63% of respondents suggested that internal comms will become “all important” as a result of coronavirus. With many employees working from home, it is more crucial than ever for brands to communicate with their workforces to ensure they feel involved in the company culture.
In the face of huge uncertainty surrounding employment, the economy and business success, efforts to stay in touch with employees are essential, helping to bolster productivity and job satisfaction. There are a host of tactics that comms leads can use to do this effectively: from video messages featuring senior leaders and regular email updates, to checklists of useful resources that could help staff to stay safe and look after their own wellbeing and that of customers and clients.
Cuts to comms budgets
Engaging with audiences is more important than ever – especially as consumers are keen to see how brands are upholding their values at this challenging time.
Many comms leaders are considering changes to how their organisations are positioned, with an awareness that their stakeholders now give a great deal more kudos to good citizenship and to contributions towards positive change.
However, the colossal economic impact of the crisis has seen many companies reassess their budgets and reshape their priorities to protect their cash flow. As a result, half the respondents in our survey expect comms budgets to be slashed in the post-Covid future.
This development will lead to an even greater focus on efficiency and effectiveness, and comms teams will have to be certain that each piece of content they produce truly adds value. Regularly reporting on content assets, as well as using analytics tools to keep track of how readers are engaging will only increase in usage as corporate communicators feel the growing need to justify their use of resource – and identify evolving audience interests. At Speak, regular dashboard reporting on content created for our clients is an essential part of our process – and has proved valuable in shaping our content creation during the pandemic.
Halting content plans
Whether companies face budget cuts or not, comms teams will need to channel resources where they matter. Nearly 40% of comms leaders said they expect long planned activity to be halted because of the uncertainty businesses are confronting.
Some of the plans communicators had in place before the crisis may now seem absurd in the current context – but it’s vital to ensure that no content is wasted that could be used. Some of the work that we’ve been developing for our clients since the start of a year has found new relevance and importance in the light of the pandemic. In some cases, simply adding new quotes and insights can create pieces that feel timely and compelling. It is also worth revisiting projects put on hold at the start of the crisis – a lot has changed since March and some may feel more pertinent now that lockdown has eased.
What won’t change
It’s easy to fixate on the ways that the pandemic is disrupting and rebuilding marketing activities – and it is essential for content creators to take heed of the rapidly evolving concerns of companies and customers alike.
But the essentials of corporate comms do not change. Good storytelling is still the best way of building empathy, understanding and giving brands a human face – especially as it is now significantly harder for potential customers to connect with a company in ‘real life’.
Indeed, just 13% of those who took part in our survey think that crisis comms will take over from brand storytelling. Content that connects audiences to brands and puts reader engagement first should always be the priority for comms practitioners – even in unprecedented times like these.
By George Theohari, head of content at Speak Media