Three trends to consider for your 2020 comms strategy

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In our first post of this year, Hannah Devoy sets out the trends that should influence your comms strategy in 2020 and beyond.

The start of a new year (or decade!) is a time for reflections, resolutions and planning – a chance to tear up old ways of working and set out on a new, enlightened path.

It’s never been harder for brands to stand out from the crowd and never more important to demonstrate return on PR and marketing investment in line with overarching objectives. Setting out a strong strategy and the right tactics to begin, will give you the best possible opportunity to demonstrate success later on.

To help you on your way, we’ve outlined the top things you, and your PR agency, should be thinking about for your comms strategy in 2020.

Communicate brand purpose

It’s of no surprise that global concerns are impacting consumer buying decisions. According to Deloitte, 80% of consumers are willing to pay more for a product or brand if it’s focused on becoming more environmentally and socially responsible. Accenture goes further to say that 47% consumers will walk away from a brand when its words or actions have disappointed them, with 17% never coming back.

While your business strategy must address ethical concerns authentically to truly build trust, your PR agency has an essential role in communicating purpose and ethical stance. This might mean better amplifying the initiatives you have in place; telling the story of your brand’s journey to reach its ethical goals; or updating your brand messaging to demonstrate the human impact of your business and its purposeful vision.

A further study by Deloitte found that 62% of respondents felt they have an emotional relationship with a brand, and of these, 76% have used that brand for four years or more. Building a memorable brand that evokes the right associations is essential for communicating purpose and creating brand value. Beyond sales targets, this is especially important if your business is leading towards a fundraise, IPO or sale, when developing an emotional connection with your stakeholders is an absolute must.

Think outside the content box

At the beginning of 2019, research from World Media Group showed that 45% of marketers said more than half of their campaigns were content-led – with this number predicted to rise in the coming years. With so much content available online and off, it’s becoming harder for brands to stand out.

Your PR agency should make sure you’re telling the right story in the right way. This means offering advice in line with the latest trends and developments in the media and online environment, which include new video platforms and voice search, for example:

  • TikTok, for example, is growing at a fantastic pace with knock-on effects for the way brands use content to portray themselves online. With over 1.5 billion users worldwide and an average engagement rate of 29%, TikTok continues to outperform much more established rivals such as YouTube. Its value should not be overlooked, yet only 4% of US marketers currently use the platform; this compares to 89% using Facebook for business purposes. 41% of TikTok’s users are between 16-24 years old so 2020 may not be the year B2B marketers start to engage with its audiences in any meaningful way, however its wider cultural impact will inevitably be felt. In particular, short-form video content will become increasingly prevalent and if used as part of a wider campaign, it offers an efficient way for you to communicate key messages in an engaging format.
  • Another example is the rise in voice search, brought about by the explosion in virtual assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Siri. According to Google, 20% of all search queries are now made by voice, with Comscore predicting this number to rise to 50% in 2020. It is important that written content is optimised to increase the likelihood of it being picked up, i.e. by using conversational language. Your PR agency should factor this in when planning thought leadership topics and messaging for the year, alongside SEO keyword recommendations.
  • With that in mind, the roll-out of Google’s BERT algorithm (which launched in 2019) will impact one in 10 queries, with obvious implications for SEO optimisation in 2020. BERT allows Google to better understand search queries, similar to the way a human would, making more accurate links between words. While Google says content can’t be optimised for BERT, the need for high quality content with natural language will become even more important through the next 12 months.

Measure everything against business objectives

There’s no single method for measuring the success of PR campaigns but rather, your PR agency should work with you to define a 2020 communications strategy in line with your business objectives. Your strategy and campaign should be measurable, with targets set at the start of the year and assessed throughout. The metrics you use will depend on various factors: your overarching objectives; what you need to show to demonstrate success internally; the strategy and tactics chosen; and any measurement tools at your disposal.

The great thing about online communications encompassing both social media and online media coverage, is that it is infinitely easier to measure than the offline equivalent. Consider including web traffic metrics, SEO improvement and social media engagement into your 2020 communications plan. Your PR agency should be able to advise you on how to do this.

As much as you may plan for victory, 2020 will undoubtedly bring surprises and much of your success will be determined by your ability to adapt and work flexibly, hand-in-hand with your PR agency, to achieve the right result. But, before 2019 becomes a distant memory, take the time to think about how you can challenge yourself to do things a little differently in 2020, to supercharge your comms strategy this year and beyond.

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