Updated: Feb 11
The PR and Communications Tracker that we recently launched with The Pulse Business revealed that the vast majority (87%) of PR leaders feel positive about the future of their businesses. Nearly a third said they were ‘very positive’ and the rest a more muted ‘quite positive’.
In my article in PRMoment, I looked at how respondents told us they were able to gain an edge during the pandemic by creating new services to satisfy the changing needs of clients. They developed new products to expand their appeal, and continuous adaptation has been key to both survival in 2020, and to the promise of a better 2021.
This is nothing new, of course. In March 2010, as the world was recovering from the 2007 crash, the Harvard Business Review published an article looking at the strategies adopted by businesses over the previous three global recessions: the 1980 crisis, the 1990 slowdown, and the 2000 bust.
It found that progressive companies - those which deploy the right combination of defence and smart adaptation - did about twice as well in bouncing back as the market as a whole.
This begs the question of how the communications industry can find the right way to change these days, in order to achieve growth and sustainability.
I learnt a lot about this when I worked at PRWeek and the PRCA. Both of these important industry brands used smart adaptation to grow their respective market leaderships.
When I joined PRWeek we were in the midst of the 2007 crash. We knew things were bad when PR agencies started cancelling their Christmas parties. Despite such trials, the outlet grew successfully out of that period. PRWeek broke news exclusives that were picked up in the nationals, and launched quality products like The Power Book which helped to build lasting direct connections with the top levels of the industry.
Likewise, the PRCA grew by building myriad direct connections regionally, nationally and globally through its awards schemes, groups and initiatives. It positioned itself as the industry expert by launching insights like the PR and Communications Census; and it demonstrated strong leadership by making some fearless decisions.
By taking such steps, both brands inspired their audiences. They made stakeholders believe that these were the brands that could make an important difference. Once a belief like that was created, audiences went on to take the desired action – to subscribe and to join.
Winning the belief of our target markets is the magic ingredient that will help us move towards market leadership as efficiently as possible. And that’s where our focus should be as we adapt and change this year – how can we inspire our audiences to believe in us?
The first step
Change comes by making a series of small steps. The first step is the hardest one to take – the one that creates the impetus for change. Progressive companies need to make an initial impetus towards change, and then they need to sustain the momentum that they’ve created.
Expert status and direct connections
There are two ways of achieving the power of belief, and I’ve already provided illustrations of both in my reminiscences about PRWeek and the PRCA:
1. Prove your expert status.
2. Forge deep and meaningful collaborative connections with target audiences.
This is the methodology that we have set out in the Carta Quadrant.
Let’s all make smart adaptations in 2021. And if you think you are taking the necessary steps to achieve market leadership, we’d like to help you to show off about your progressive nature.
For the first 20 companies to get in touch, we will chart where you sit on the Carta Quadrant, free of charge. This will help you to understand how far you need to travel to be seen as a true market leader.