Plan, Pivot, Repeat – That seems to be the mantra of 2020. The best laid plans fall victim to rapidly changing news cycles, physical disruptions, budget constraints and consumer interests.
This year has been a rollercoaster for most businesses – and their marketing teams are no exception. How do you market and sell products and services, while factoring in global context and your consumer’s preoccupation with the events of the day? You not only need to remain aware, but sensitive, to the challenges many are facing.
2020 will likely be studied in MBA courses for generations. And, one of the most important classroom conversations will be about flexibility and accountability. The businesses and marketing teams that embraced flexibility without relinquishing accountability will be the ones to emerge on solid footing. It’s likely no one will come out of this unscathed (except maybe Amazon), but if you focus on the long game, you can create a strong foundation for growth.
At W2 Communications, we are seeing this across all aspects of our client programs – on the digital side, many businesses are pivoting to new and creative lead-gen activities. On the social side, clients are engaging and supporting causes in new ways. We are helping other clients create content that highlights how their solutions are helping customers adapt to the world today. Initiatives like these help companies break out of ruts and dead air by reshaping narratives, evolving their 2019 positioning to remain relevant in 2020 by continually evaluating and adjusting to current events.
While many organizations have seen success in these areas, media relations and alignment with reporters’ needs is proving to be much more difficult for many businesses, especially in the tech arena. The irony of this challenge is that we are also hearing from a number of reporters and publications that readership actually increased over the last six months, as in-person events were cancelled and people turn to earned media platforms for more specialized expertise.
Since mid-March, we’ve heard a lot of businesses say they need PR partners who are architected for the flexibility necessary in today’s environment. It may sound counterintuitive for the dynamic communications business, yet we constantly hear about PR programs stalling because firms were not nimble enough to responsibly and creatively tap into the current media atmosphere.
As we work with clients to rethink and align their stories and messaging with the unpredictable 2020 news cycles, we are focusing on context and value – make sure your story makes sense and adds uniqueness to the stories reporters are looking to tell. To be clear, you don’t need to change who you are; you just need a partner who can help tell your story through a new – and constantly changing – media lens.
Times of transition also create an opportunity to try new things – test out new social campaigns, drive new positioning or even try out new delivery platforms. As an example, we’ve started seeing a lot of interest in NewsDirect, a new information distribution service which seems to be delivering similar reach to traditional wire services, but also allow us to push content like this blog or infographics.
It’s not entirely different from what we have always done for our clients – identify the value prop, determine how it fits within the media landscape and create interesting and unique approaches, campaigns and initiatives that garner attention. And then analyze and measure the results – it’s this accountability that allows us to quickly reevaluate and realign in times like these.
If we are to look for a positive in all of this, it’s that 2020 may actually be doing some CMOs a favor by placing a spotlight on the areas that need readjustment. While our clients have seen increases in weighted, valuable coverage, many other CMOs have seen a decrease or, in some cases, a disappearance of coverage. We have a unique opportunity to reevaluate, realign and redesign media strategies that actually support the business needs and build momentum.
This is a difficult year for marketers across the board, but a flexible and creative partner can make things easier.
Are you attaining your goals? Have your partners been able to pivot?
Check out our “Pivotal” Sidebar Examples and drop me a line if you want to talk about how we can help reframe your programs — Tony@w2comm.com