Isentia and IABC’s Comms Agenda 2021 has revealed how COVID-19 has reinforced the importance of communications and its role in business strategy.
According to the research, 25 per cent of APAC communication teams will be closely involved with strategy, while 14 per cent will prioritise brand reputation and 14 per cent will seek to leverage technology to make a greater impact on employee engagement over the next 12 months.
Leading media intelligence company, Isentia, and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) APAC today launched the study that uncovers insights around the future of the communication profession in a post-pandemic world. The Comms Agenda 2021 unveils the challenges and opportunities for the communication industry across APAC as well as the top priorities for comms professionals over the next 12 months.
For many organisations, COVID-19 has, and continues to place strategic communication high on the board agenda as comms professionals are increasingly seen as trusted advisors and critical to the success of an effective response. While countries across APAC are at various stages of the journey as they navigate through the pandemic, from initial containment to the phased transition of living and working with COVID-19 to recovery, the pressing need for nimble, strategic and resilient communication remains a constant.
After conducting an in-depth survey of comms professionals across more than 21 industries and 14 countries over the past 2 months, Isentia and IABC narrowed down the findings to four key pillars which will shape the communication profession in a post-pandemic world:
- Strategy will take centre-stage
24 per cent of communication professionals surveyed stated that they plan to review their communication channels and focus their efforts on owned media, while 17 per cent will rethink their message to market approach. Comms professionals will rethink their approach to strategy, focusing on new priorities such as employee engagement and brand reputation. The next 12 months will also see comms professionals strive to strike the right balance between internal and external communications for more effective collaboration across functions; 25 per cent of communication professionals will work more closely with Strategy teams leading to the outsourcing of more hands-on tasks such as Design & Creative (17 per cent), Social Media (15 per cent), and PR (14 per cent).
- Managing and enhancing brand reputation will be the top priority
When asked about the top communications priorities over the next 12 months, respondents have indicated the need for a consistent brand presence that can stand the test of time and crisis. As such, brand reputation is the leading focus for professional communicators (14 per cent), underpinned by a mix of employee engagement (10 per cent), leadership communications (10 per cent) and content strategy (12 per cent) – all of which have a direct correlation with enhancing overall corporate reputation.
- Finding consensus on the right data to enable decision-making will present an opportunity
It’s clear that there is a desire for good research and data to support comms strategy, but there is little consensus on what type of data would be most effective. Measurement in a post-pandemic world will be critical. With the increasing pressure to deliver strong ROI, communication teams will rely heavily on data and measurement tools to have a holistic view of the key reporting dimensions of stakeholder surveys (15 per cent), employee engagement (11 per cent) and reputation analysis (9 per cent). The Comms Agenda 2021 study reveals survey metrics as the main data point to inform communication strategies over the next 12 months.
- Leveraging technology to strengthen employer-employee relationship
Communication professionals will turn to technology to make a bigger impact on the lifeblood of their organisations over the next 12 months, with 15 per cent wanting to focus on employees and 13 per cent on customers. Communication teams will also adopt more tech and automation tools to enhance their brand communications (12 per cent) and crisis management strategies (12 per cent).
Isentia insights director ANZ Ngaire Crawford said: “While many organisations are looking to cut costs wherever they can during these uncertain times, it’s interesting to see that 66 per cent of organisations will not reduce the size of their communications teams. This alone speaks volumes about the growing importance of comms professionals. Building a bank of knowledge of good strategies, tools and ideas is crucial to ensuring that communicators can capitalise on their work, continuing to build and grow understanding and audience connection.
“We’re excited to present such valuable findings to the comms industry and give a voice to the most diverse pool of communications professionals across APAC. This study will hopefully be used as a playbook for comms teams over the next 12 months as they continue to act as the first line of defence in helping organisations build effective pandemic preparedness and response communications strategies”.
Kristy Christie from IABC added: “We know that organisations are not out of the woods yet when it comes to navigating the pandemic and adapting to the different stages each city finds itself in. Over the next 12 months, communication professionals will continue playing a key role in helping with this. However, to retain our seat at the table, it’s important to remember Daniel Munslow’s advice that ‘trusted advisors lead instead of follow’. We must be proactive in gathering the data needed to identify risks, stay abreast of evolving trends, monitor potential pressure points and then use it to inform both our decision making process and the solutions we propose to executives.”
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