How to invest in your communications strategy to propel your business forward

A successful business recognises the need for a dynamic marketing budget, one that’s agile enough to respond to market trends and support the ever-changing needs of the business. However, some projects are worth investing in now to help to move the business on.

At this point in the financial year, if there is budget left in your marketing pot, here are some activities to think about that will increase brand equity and help your business to thrive.

Media training in a digital-first world 

The digital landscape means that as a brand, you can be your own publisher. Social media channels, your website plus any forums you’re subscribed to allow your spokespeople to build their own personal brand, broadcast their point of view and build their own community of followers. Yet, how many of the people who represent your business via these platforms understand the importance of managing the brand narrative? If you’re confident in those spokespeople but want to amplify their reach – how can you ensure you’re giving your audience what they want?

Here is where media training, or media coaching comes in. It’s designed as a form of professional development that bolsters competence and confidence when dealing with all forms of the media. Investing in your spokespeople brings many future benefits. It can maximise opportunities to speak to journalists and provide them with that all-important soundbite or headline, it can revolutionise how they grab attention on their own work channels and it can prepare them in the event of a crisis.

Becoming an effective spokesperson requires practice and preparation. Bespoke, scenario-based role-play can test and develop new skills and meet your business needs where they are.

Online reputation management

As more and more business is now conducted online, it makes sense that we view reputation through an online lens. It’s important to proactively build your online presence to build resilience and provide important trust signals to encourage customers to buy from you.

Yet, threats to reputation are everywhere online. A quick Google search can be make-or-break for whether a potential client chooses you or someone else. One tweet in poor taste can undo a decade of brand-building. A poor Glassdoor review from a disgruntled ex-employee also isn’t ideal.

Reputation auditing and a proactive reputation management project can mitigate content that can bring you reputational harm and can potentially optimise how you appear in Google’s search results.

Crisis Communication Planning

Everything’s OK, until it’s not OK. You may have plans in place at an operational level for when challenges arise, but you need to ensure you’ve also considered how plans will be communicated, by whom and through which channels.    

A crisis communications plan provides a framework and set of guidelines for the business to follow when a crisis hits. Having a single point of reference for the whole organisation offers structure, and clarity, putting you in the best possible position to manage the reputation of the business.

A crisis preparedness project could entail issues mapping, stakeholder mapping, auditing communication channels and statement preparation.

Insights reporting

Insights reporting can be a strategic investment in the growth and sustainability of your business. It could include analysing a topic, identifying high-impact channels to crafting compelling narratives that resonate with your audience. An insights project could help you to:

  • Conduct a landscape analysis: Looking deep into a particular topic, for example, retirement in the UK or the future of work, you can track mentions across channels and analyse the data for audience statistics, trends and whitespace. This will allow you to shape your strategy for approaching these topics.
  • Conduct a target audience analysis: Run a stakeholder workshop to get their expert view on who they see as your key audience groups and then construct searches to capture online conversations that these groups are a part of. Use this to understand what motivates them, the channels they use, the trends they are interested in and how to reach them.
  • Plan campaigns: Insight is needed to run campaigns that really capture people’s attention. Find the trends and conversations that your business can have an authoritative voice on.
  • Conduct a share of voice and media profile analysis: Track your share of voice against your key competitors across a range of different channels. This will allow you to benchmark over time and track the impact of your brand’s communications campaigns. You can take this to the next level by cross-referencing mentions against business-critical topics. 

ESG and sustainability communications planning

‘Greenhushing’ refers to businesses opting to keep ESG and sustainability commitments and actions quiet, for fear of sparking backlash or attracting additional scrutiny on their performance. It’s understandable, but this approach stifles progress, creating a distorted picture of where action is – and isn’t - being taken. With the urgency of climate action, and an ever-growing expectation of action across the board on ESG and sustainability, ignoring these issues entirely in communications and PR is rarely the correct course of action.

ESG and sustainability communications benchmarking can be carried out as a one-off project or as part of a wider brief to help focus activity and identify gaps where proof-points are needed. Where appropriate, it can also advise on partners or routes to address these gaps and bring issues up to a level where proactive communications makes sense.

Investing in the future of your business

In summary, being strategic about where you place your remaining marketing budget this financial year can unlock potential and position your business for success in 2024 and well beyond.