Change in our industry comes fast and slow. Our days are frequently frenetic, but actual shifts in how we communicate can take years or decades to develop. These trends often get boiled down to pablum reiterated at breakfast roundtables and drinks receptions the world over.
In an effort to push beyond these commonly-espoused opinions – ‘digital is changing everything’ and ‘the world is flat’ – for the last three years we’ve commissioned a survey of marketing and communications professionals across the markets where Cognito works. People wrote in from Sydney to San Francisco, from Helsinki to Sao Paulo.
We heard from several dozen experts, asking them to weigh in on what they say as the most important things impacting our industry today. Here are three important takeaways:
We’re all content creators now. We asked respondents to describe what areas of marketing their role encompassed. Respondents were allowed to choose more than one answer. We heard from internal communicators, digital communicators, event organizers and media relations executives. But the most common response – and more than 70 percent of people said this – was that they were involved in “content creation.” The ability to make content is now absolutely essential across the marketing function, not just in a small content ‘silo.’
Money matters. When asking people to rank what problems were challenges in their function, regulatory change and ensuring diversity came in last. Companies feel able to adapt to these changes in these areas. More difficult, however, were organizational changes and especially securing budget. These present more complex challenges that cannot simply be explained with a simple fix. Organizations going through these changes are more prone to need help in order to move forward.
Everything is important, but some things are more important. We tried to get respondents to say which platforms were becoming more or less important in the course of their work. The answers revealed a surprising bashfulness – no one platform was identified as becoming less important for more than 20 percent of respondents. That platform was newspapers, which combined with Wikipedia.were the only networks with a net negative score. Regional business media, Instagram, financial trade media and Youtube? They are all becoming slightly more important in the eyes of our survey respondents.
But in the sea of importantness, one network is the most valued of all – LinkedIn. Four in five respondents said that LinkedIn is becoming a more valuable place to reach clients and prospects. No other network even came close.
Where does this leave us? Speaking with the Cognito leadership team, we see an increasing need to develop communications contracts that are flexible, where the goals and tactics can be quickly adjusted based on feedback. Rather than waiting for six months to move from a paid LinkedIn campaign to contributed bylines, smart organizations are embracing the full range of marketing disciplines.
Content today may be different from what’s needed tomorrow. And the available resources certainly shift from day to day, along with the method of communication. We need to be flexible to deal with the fast and slow, forwards and backwards and topsy-turvy world of communication.
Jon Schubin is an associate director based in Cognito’s London office