Reimagining Communications for the Next Decade

The Paine of Measurement, August 2020

Nothing quite like a pandemic, protests in the streets, and a global recession to resurrect my favorite buzzphrase: “big structural change.” (A tip of the hat to Elizabeth Warren.) As someone who has reinvented herself and her business many times over, there’s nothing I welcome more.

Whether you thrive on change and chaos, or would much prefer that things remain the same, you really don’t have much choice. Just as the problems we confront today can’t be solved with tools or medicines invented decades ago, your ability to adapt in the next normal won’t be accomplished with the skill set you learned decades or even a few years ago.

So, we dedicate this issue to providing you with a glimpse at the new skill set and the new toolkit you will need to survive in our new landscape.

First we’ll tackle the big structural change that is coming to a communications team near you. The one that will require a different way of thinking and radically different skill sets.

We’ve been warning of this for years, and there’s nothing like budget shortfalls and a recession to make dire predictions come true. As organizations try to figure out how to survive in an economy that is at best flat and at worst continuously poised for disaster, the first thing they will look at is marketing spend, and that includes communications. Yes, corporate communications is supposed to protect and defend your brand. But when an organization is fighting for survival, it’s going to look at the whole big outreach budget and try to squeeze the most out of it.

What it will come down to is: “Where can we get the most impact for the fewest dollars?” Now, PR people will tell you how efficient PR is — that was the major argument about AVEs for years. And while PR is still a good way to get your messages out (and AVEs are not a good way to do anything), it may not be effective or cost-effective without some paid digital ads to promote it.

And before you digital and PR people start fighting over the budget, remember that this structural change means you have to play on the same team, and show your impact from the same metrics. It may only cost you pennies to get a story out there, or a few dollars to promote it with a digital ad, but you’re not going to be able to attribute a sale to one or the other since you are joined by necessity at the proverbial hip. So play nice; you’ll get better results. And you just might keep your jobs.

In this August 2020 issue of The Measurement Advisor we bring you:

Stay healthy, stay sane, and measure on,

Illustration by Bill Paarlberg based on a photo by Monsterkoi on Pixabay.

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