It may only be early December, but communications officers all over the world are well into 2020 planning mode. For our team at the World Economic Forum, particularly in light of our 50th anniversary next year, we have been in preparation for Davos for months. Bring on the -10 celsius temps and shoe grips already!
We all know the world is becoming more globalized. Internationally, newsroom resources are reducing and every day unpredictable events (and unpredictable people) are dominating the media discussion. Brexit, Trump, trade, climate... we could go on.
How then can a company compete for media attention in 2020? TV, newspapers and radio stations are overcrowded with content - now coming from both local and global sources. It’s hard enough to secure a decent share in your relevant regional publications - so where do you begin when you want to go big and be heard across multiple markets? How do you ensure your company stays relevant in the media conversation taking place at both local and global levels? How do you stay seen? How should your PR strategy shift to stay relevant?
From stepping foot into my very first media role, I have answered these questions by leading PR and corporate affairs strategies for companies with one simple focus: expanding the remit. It’s also known in the industry as increasing ‘share of voice’. It’s my firm belief (stronger today than ever before) that this approach is absolutely crucial for companies to not only dominate in terms of media coverage but to stay in the game altogether.
Increasing your company’s remit, or share of voice is the one way to remain part of the conversation in your target markets and high up on the media’s radar. As a communications/ public relations / corporate affairs professional - you have to steer your company in this direction, and prepare your representatives well for it. For the executives/spokespeople reading - you have to be bold to take on this new direction, and well-prepared to broaden your talking points.
Expanding your PR remit means being willing, and going out of your way, to comment on industry and news topics outside of your set agenda. Are you an NGO focused on asthma care and disease management? Be bold to step out as a leading voice on health issues globally. Are you a communications officer in an electricity company? Devise a strategy to proactively share your views on the climate debate and circular economy. Are you an executive in a consumer goods corporation? Set a schedule with your team to comment regularly on the political landscape and how it affects your industry and outlook for business more broadly.
To get specific – if you’re representing a growing tech company, you may feel like the ups and downs of Brexit are completely unrelated to your industry and out of your scope for media comment. But what if you took the time to consider the effect of years of Brexit impact on local and international business? Can you find data on how the situation has affected tech companies at large? Has investment changed? What about consumer confidence and tech business or industry forecasts? When you find a point of relevance to add to the conversation you expand your remit - and become part of the broader coverage on a major issue - giving air time and awareness to your company in a way that only being bold enough to extend your share of voice can.
Companies prepared to comment outside their press releases, corporate statements and niche industry issues are the ones who will succeed in dominating news coverage, raising brand awareness and excelling in public relations. It takes courage, training and planning - but the effort will be well worth the reward. This strategy is how I helped one of the previous companies I worked for to double their media coverage year-on-year, maintain the gain for several years running, and set the standard for PR teams in the local market, in terms of reach and engagement.
2020 marks the start of a new decade to double-down and increase your company’s PR remit. It’s one of the only ways to remain relevant across multiple markets and part of the conversation.
Katie Clift is the marketing and corporate affairs lead at the World Economic Forum