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Food for Thought for 2019

It’s customary at this time of year to look ahead at what might be on the horizon. I don’t profess that these will be the overriding priorities for financial services PR people in 2019, but they are 5 key themes that have emerged for me personally based on recent events I’ve been to and conversations I’ve had – some food for thought for the coming year…

  • ask why more: it was a central theme at this year’s CIPR National Conference – customers don’t buy what a business offers, they buy why they are doing it. With millennials voting with their feet and choosing brands that have sustainability, purpose and social value at their core, there’s merit in thinking more and more about why your business does what it does. In 2019, don’t be afraid to put that at the centre of your comms.

  • CSR is dead: a theme that has cropped up time and again this year, and follows on from the point above. Simply donating money to good causes or volunteering a troupe of staff to paint fences or plant trees just isn’t going to cut it – old approaches to CSR have failed, trust in business remains low and there are still massive divides between business and communities. In 2019, think strategically about how you can evidence true social value – the PR function has a key role to play in making sure it’s integrated, credible and authentic.

  • internal vs external: the two worlds are no longer separate disciplines. More than ever, internal and external comms must work together. There are real dangers in not doing so (contradictory messaging, disgruntled staff etc) but there are equally real opportunities to make campaigns more engaging by bringing the two worlds together. Particularly in a world where there is significant change across both the private and public sectors, it’s really important to bring employees as well as customers with you on your journey. Employees can be the best brand advocates and I think in 2019 there’s a real opportunity to capitalise on that, and look both internally and externally to create great content

  • more digital, basically: there’s no doubt we’ll continue to talk about the impact of technology and the opportunities it presents. When it comes to fintech, my experience to date is that there’s a massive gulf between the tech side and traditional financial services - on both sides, firms are making great strides, but technical language continues to jar. It creates potential for misunderstanding, lack of clarity and ultimately less progress. In 2019, let’s drop the jargon and explain the benefits of technology clearly. Technology is great for making processes more efficient, but don’t neglect the human element – business is still about human relationships ultimately, and that means emotive engagement and clear comms will still be vital

  • pause for thought: it’s often far too easy in this busy crazy world to get buried and immersed in the day to day workload. Email traffic and social media use makes comms a non-stop world and sometimes it can feel a bit relentless – regularly I see how that can translate into ideas not being given the real thought they deserve. Yes, time is valuable, but in 2019, make a promise to take some time each day to pause for thought, think things through. It will help bring some clarity to what’s going on around you and help you do things better. It’s good for wellbeing too.

Here’s to 2019…

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