What can communications practitioners expect in 2018?

As we and our clients look to 2018, we share our thoughts on the trends we think will shape strategic communications programmes in the year to come.

Communicators are business partners:

As communicators, our role is to help regulators understand the businesses we work with to secure their freedom to operate. We build relationships with the media who matter most to our clients so that they think of us before publishing that potentially harmful story. We mitigate risk when organisations find themselves in difficult circumstances. And we engage employees to ensure they feel connected to the company that they work for and remain productive. However, none of this is possible if we don’t know what business leaders are thinking and planning. It is essential then that communicators act as partners in business and not simply a function for creating newsletters. Internally, communications may sometimes be misunderstood as a support function and perhaps not something that helps to drive business. In reality, we should be thought of as a partner to the business and whilst a communications practitioner will not be making front-line sales, they should be enabling those that do to “sell” or supporting leaders in their efforts to raise important capital from high-quality investors. By working closely with business leaders, we can better understand business opportunities and create an environment in which these can be realised.

We’ve been working with our clients to advise on how good communication can drive their business and, this year, we’ve also supported one partner on their journey to IPO. We are providing training and strategic advisory for top executives in the region to ensure that they are thinking about how targeted communications can help them to grow their business.  For more information on how Spurwing can advise you, contact us at info@spurwingcomms.com

Communications across borders:

It has always been the case that, to gain traction on the ground, you need to tailor your communications to a specific country or area. This is particularly true for regions as diverse as ours here in Southeast Asia. What we can sometimes forget is the need to adapt local content for a regional audience – communications is a two way exchange. Our expanded team brings broad experience in working with government officials that have very clear strategies for what they want to achieve domestically. However, it is often the case that these officials are less interested in what we could do for them locally and more in what experience we can bring from outside. They are interested in being more engaged in international markets and want to learn from the experience of their peers both here in Southeast Asia and further afield. This marks an excellent opportunity for organisations working across multiple countries. A good communications strategy that shares experiences across geographies can not only help to engage people with your business, it is also an important part of knowledge sharing that ultimately enables public sector leaders to make better decisions for their countries.

We have found that story telling is one of the best ways to engage your audience and the best stories are found on the ground. Increasingly we are supporting our partners to develop tools and provide council to their country teams as they seek to improve communications coming out of key markets.

Sustainability communications is no longer a nice-to-have:

Communicating sustainability is nothing new. Many companies have made commitments to act more sustainably and improve environmental efficiency in their supply chains. Increasing efficiency makes good business sense and it’s great news for the planet. It goes without saying that this also produces great content for companies’ communications teams. In the past, these organisations have been held up as examples of what good, long-term business strategy can look like. Yet many companies remain focused on short-term, financially driven objectives which often lead to unsustainable decisions. This will change.

In the past, sustainability reporting has been something that ‘good’ companies do but it is fast becoming a mainstream business practice and regulators around the world are mandating clear communications on progress.  Whilst enforcing reporting doesn’t have a direct impact on a company’s sustainable practices themselves, it does force the organisation to publish what they are doing, laying bare any ‘bad’ practices. As with any problem, the first step towards a solution is communication. By ensuring that all companies are talking about sustainability, we are paving the way to a future of more good businesses doing good business.

At Spurwing, we certainly expect to see this impacting on what success looks like and how companies communicate. Through strategic communications, we help our partners demonstrate to all stakeholders – from the media to governments - that they are going to do good, sustainable business in their countries.

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