It’s a matter of trust and influence in 2018
We’re so over Blue Monday – was it really the most depressing day of the year? Time to pack away the crystal ball and focus on the real opportunities to support and engage with clients and customers. Here are some of our thoughts on the areas that will gain prominence in financial services corporate communications this year. There is a genuine change to how readers and viewers access and digest content. Our audiences are more vocal in reacting to and engaging with it, saying what they like and what they don’t. This continues to be an evolving factor in how we work in building and managing our clients’ reputations.
We were fortunate to find ourselves in the company of Robert Phillips, author of a book called “Trust me, PR is Dead”. The title might raise a few eyebrows but bear with us. Mr Phillips was the EMEA CEO of Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm, and his book eloquently describes his epiphany moment when he realised that trust had become a commodity rather than something a business earned or warranted. This led to him establishing a new style of PR agency, centred around the reputational value of earned trustworthiness.
Financial services is a trust-based industry. It’s a mantra we are all familiar with and is the foundation for customer and business relationships. Robert Phillips’ book provides a fascinating perspective and affirms that, for clients providing varying degrees of financial services, being regarded as genuinely trustworthy is a core requirement. The communications landscape points squarely to this becoming the key trigger to building reputational equity. 2018 should be a year for demonstrating that trust is a show and not-just-tell play.
Becoming an influencer
There is a clear evolution happening in traditional publishing. Against a backdrop of falling trust and increased reliance upon online outputs, the focus is on providing strong and relevant, thought-led insights for readers. To ensure these pieces have maximum impact, editors look for the most influential voices in the industry. 2018 will see an increase in this influencer-led commentary.
New channels and content publishers are becoming credible alternatives and sources of influence, and size is not the issue. To maximise the opportunities both traditional and alternative channels provide, companies not only need to ensure their spokespeople are ready and able to speak on topics within their field, but also to have training enabling them to make the most of all the channels; written, audio and video, to get their messages across with maximum impact.
Paid vs Earned Content
Many publishing houses are looking to monetise what was previously free or earned editorial content. In the last year we’ve seen an increased push towards paid-for content. This broader blurring between earned and sponsored content will only continue and perhaps accelerate in 2018, especially when considering the growing range of online-only publications.
PR firms and clients cannot ignore this development. We will always push for the objective- reported, earned coverage- but we must pay regard to promoted content. Our PR+ approach focuses on aligning communication channels with the customer journey, whether that’s building brand awareness, supporting the conversion of that awareness into consideration or creating brand advocates. Being able to demonstrate a link between these communication efforts and sales outcomes means you should not preclude paid opportunities.
The key is to utilise the right channel for the right reason at the right time. So, whether that’s earned reputational PR work or sponsored content, they have a clear role to play in supporting a client’s sales and marketing activities.
Owning your digital footprint
There is an almost deafening level of content noise out there now. This means it’s more difficult for any communications strategy to gain attention, so fully planning, managing and adapting activity is an absolute must. Clients need to be clear about the channels they are using and, more importantly, why they are using them. They need to have clear lines of sight to where their content will be and what they want readers to do. Likewise, keeping aware of their competitors’ activities and looking at how their own messaging can be seen positively in contrast to these.
Failing to give adequate consideration to these areas means there’s a good chance that key voices and messaging will be drowned out, and opportunities to connect with audiences will be lost. 2018 will see us continuing to look at all channels, all voices and all messaging to form part of fully developed and strategic campaign.
As experts in connected communication, we can help you perfect your brand messages, ensure they will resonate with your audience at whatever point they are in their journey with you, and then tell your story in the most impactful and engaging way. To find out more about Full Circle’s approach to creating value through communications, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.