Planning your communications strategy for H2

Many businesses are now in the position of planning for the second half of what has been one of the most unpredictable and disruptive years in memory. However, some businesses will also find that they have a bit more bandwidth than they would during a typical June: employees face less distractions than in an office environment, time is saved by not commuting, and some activities may be on hold until after lockdown. This is the time for you to engage your team, put your minds together and define a communications strategy that will ensure that 2020 is a success despite the market conditions.

Here are a few considerations for your business as you prepare your H2 strategy over the coming weeks:

What new marketing collateral can give you a head start?

Many countries are now incrementally easing their lockdown restrictions. Within the next couple of months most industries will have established a new ‘norm’, which is likely to be a hybrid of what we have today – an emphasis on virtual engagement – and what we were all accustomed to before the virus hit.

Spending on big projects that don’t promise strong ROI is not advised in the immediate post lockdown environment – cashflow is going to be key for most businesses. So early H2 is the perfect time to focus resources on building up and developing digital content. This can help your customers and prospects understand how your business has adapted to the changes and challenges your industry faces.

  • Could a whitepaper, animation or video be useful to help the industry understand the value of a new solution you’re bringing to market?
  • Could you update parts of your website to help customers and prospects understand how your business is adapting to a virtual business model?
  • Could you build up a bank of existing case studies that will help demonstrate the value of your solutions?

Is your messaging suitable for a post-COVID-19 market?

A central part of the aforementioned content you develop in H2 will be your company’s core messaging, which will feed into all of your outbound communications – from press releases, to web copy and thought leadership. Some businesses, over the past couple of months, have successfully managed to adapt their messaging to incorporate how their business is helping customers navigate the COVID-19 landscape. But industry discussions will inevitably move on from this topic and the team at Babel has received feedback, particularly from the business press, that they’re getting ‘COVID-19 fatigue’. It’s time to think about how you can move the discussion on.

What I have seen it that there is now, more than ever, a requirement for companies to demonstrate their social purpose. COVID-19 has created a drive towards togetherness and the onus is on companies to define how they are working towards a greater good. Is your company helping the world become a greener/more sustainable/enjoyable/safer place? It’s worth considering how you can highlight this value in your messaging for H2. As always, you should also take a view on the major technologies and trends that could quickly become the hottest topics throughout the rest of the year; the topics that the media will be writing about the most. Speak to your customers and find out the issues that are important to them, and the challenges they’re facing – these are the topics that will also keep you firmly on their radar.

Set yourself stretch targets

COVID-19 has resulted in many companies writing off losses and setting new targets that will undermine the year’s early ambitions. However, when it comes to PR, businesses shouldn’t be downsizing their ambitions. An analysis we conducted using Signal, revealed that more media articles have been written in the key technology press in May 2020, versus the same time period in 2019. The media still has its foot on the pedal and companies now need to take the initiative to push forwards with their communications plans to ensure that they’re stealing valuable mindshare. Whilst there may or may not be as much scope for announcements, thought leadership is an invaluable tool for ensuring your company’s consistent presence in the media.

Ensure that you set goals for your coverage reach and quality, and have the tools to measure this effectively. You should analyse the quality of the coverage, based on a tiered system, taking into consideration the relevance of the publication and the circulation/reach. This will give a strong indication of whether coverage of your business is resulting in brand awareness among the right audience. Lessons can be learnt from where your competitors are securing coverage, and also offer a reasonable benchmark of what you can achieve.

Be prepared to pivot

Finally, it’s important that you make the necessary preparations for the fact that you may have to pivot your plans this year. New product launches, customer win releases, company earnings, may all be impacted by COVID-19, so have contingency plans for if they don’t pan out the way you’d hoped. This is also where your PR agency should come in. An agency worth its salt should set up a range of proactive communications activities for your business, that don’t rely on news. From creative campaigns, to news hijacking, contributed articles and briefings – your pipeline of media opportunities needs to be full, despite any potential hiatus on announcements. This is what Babel has been doing for its clients for years. If you want to find out more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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