Smaller budgets, higher expectations, a hyper-political media environment, a global pandemic—the road for corporate communications departments hasn’t been easy this year.
Along with the kind of evergreen challenges that have always faced comms departments, this year is seeing additional issues that are making it harder than ever to get your brand’s message out to the people who need to hear it.
Here are the three biggest problems our industry is facing.
A completely saturated media environment
If we thought cutting through the noise was hard already, 2020 has shown us what a truly saturated media environment looks like.
With such once-in-a-lifetime (we hope) events as the coronavirus pandemic and a hyper-partisan election, not to mention worldwide social protests, many of us are exhausted just trying to keep with the news of the day.
If you’re going to get someone—whether that’s an employee or an external stakeholder—to tune into your brand messaging, that messaging had better be appealing, concise, and easy to consume.
One way to do this is to create a seamless digital experience for the people you’re trying to reach by including everything—text, imagery, video, etc.—in one spot. That’s the idea behind our SmartStory offering, which we developed as a way for brands to deliver all the content and media they want to share on a single-page platform.
This has always been true, but it’s even more so now—neither journalists, nor bloggers, nor customers are going to spend time searching through your website to find the photo or news release they need. More likely, if they can’t find what they want in a few minutes, they’re going to go to another brand, which could very well be your competitor.
Keeping everything together on one, easy-to-navigate page, whether that’s a SmartStory or not, is key to getting the coverage and attention your brand wants.
Higher expectations for proven ROI
The ROI on PR activities has historically been difficult to quantify.
However, as PR has moved into the digital sphere, it’s become easier to see things like how many impressions a piece of coverage received, how much website traffic came from a specific piece of coverage, or how long that piece of coverage continues to receive clicks.
This has become something of a double-edged sword for comms departments. On the one hand, having that data can make it easier to provide the executive team with the proof of value they’re increasingly requiring from comms leaders. That’s not to mention how valuable this data and reporting can be for things like justifying budget increase requests.
On the other hand, collecting, organizing, and interpreting this data requires a significant investment of time, as well as the expertise needed to effectively understand and act on the data.
And this expertise simply isn’t something every comms department has at the ready. If a department isn’t able to hire another person who does have this expertise (and most, these days, aren’t), then outsourcing it is often the best decision.
An ever-lengthening list of responsibilities
As communication has shifted to digital, the role of a comms department leader, or staffer, for that matter, has grown and changed almost beyond recognition.
People who got into comms work because they were good communicators—great speakers, writers, presenters—are now finding themselves expected to fit photos onto web pages, learn to use a long list of new content platforms, and optimize content for digital distribution.
This takes staff away from the duties at which they excel, and forces them to spend more and more time in the weeds handling details they’d rather not have to think about. It’s either that, or wait on an IT department to make those edits and updates, which can take days or weeks.
Just as with data and reporting, it often makes sense to outsource things like content management and digital content hub management to another party, unless it’s possible to add staff who have those specific skills to a department.
Being in the communications industry in the digital age, and specifically in 2020, is requiring us to adapt, pivot, and rethink how we operate on a faster timeline than we’ve ever had to before. If you’re in need of an experienced commtech partner to help you manage it all, contact us today.