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2020 vision: the newsroom approach amping up comms

18 Jan 2020

One of the greatest challenges for the modern communicator is how to keep it simple and authentic without getting distracted by the shiny objects of digital media.

In 2020, we can expect to see an expanding divide between organisations and leaders who communicate simply, strategically and sustainably, and those who take a scattergun approach for equally patchy returns.

Platforms, be it TikTok, YouTube or Facebook, will continue to be important to reach defined audiences. However, the real rewards will come from elsewhere.

Trust will be at the gravitational centre of those organisations that stand out from the crowd. Trust has moved from a buzzword to an imperative, whether you are a big corporation or a small non-government body.

This should put a spring in the step for communications professionals because our counsel, our performance, is more important than ever to the health and prosperity of those for whom we work.

As we return to the front-line of the comms battle to win hearts and minds, it’s worth circling back on three basic communication principles.

1. Leaders who get out on the front foot will reap the dividends.

The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed an increasing demand for CEOs to speak out across issues. This engenders trust within the workforce and furthermore provides an organisation with a level of reputation inoculation. The research showed that 76 per cent of respondents wanted CEOS to take the lead on change rather than wait for government action. This was 11 points higher than the previous year. It follows that as communicators we have an elevated role in helping to craft, steer and distribute that messaging. 

2. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

A strategic communications framework aligned to an organisation’s business objectives is essential. But it’s amazing how many organisations, even peak bodies, that don’t have such a reference point. They are then confused about the channels that comprise their media ecosystem and how to mobilise them. Let’s start the year on the same page.

3. Ultimately, it’s about the story.

Well, stories. Authentic and engaging ones – consistently delivered and that create a community of interest and heartfelt connection with audiences. That’s easier said than done but the modern approach certainly eschews the PR practices of the past if building trust is the endeavour.

Stuart Howie is a communications strategist and IABC Canberra member. The DIY Newsroom was awarded Social Media and Technology Book of the Year at the 2019 Australian Business Book Awards. Stuart is a former deputy and acting editor of The Canberra Times, and editorial director of Fairfax Media. He will present at the IABC regional FUSION conference in New Zealand in March as well at the global conference in Chicago in June. 
Connect with Stuart on LinkedIn.

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