I was delighted to joined the Meridan West panel today (5 May) at its Virtual Breakfast webinar programme to discuss changing communications strategies and thought leadership.

Below are my thoughts on how communications programmes will evolve over the next six months.

Good communications strategies have always been fluid, adapting to changing markets, politics, regulation, and client demands.

And for many firms, the past 43 days of lockdown will have tested those communications strategies to breaking point. Some firms have shown their true strengths, others will be found wanting.

Throughout the lockdown, we have seen communications programmes focus on the 'here and now'. Reaction to a fluid and rapidly evolving picture, providing guidance and support to clients. This is how it should be.

But the time for this kind of communication is rapidly drawing to a close.

The new announcements and measures from government are slowing down. Clients are increasingly at grips with the immediate challenges. Staff that can be furloughed have been furloughed. Emergency funding through CBILS and the Bounce Back Loans for smaller businesses have or are being applied for.

Businesses are now looking to the challenges on the near horizon. 

It is time for communications strategies to pivot again.

So how should your communications strategies change to anticipate client needs, and to reflect your firm's future revenue sources? 

Firms will want to consider two things.

First, the everyday issues. How should firms and their clients respond to tomorrow's 'here and now'? 

This will be addressed via newsletters, briefings, press and media relations etc. Professional services firms are very good at this – they have been doing it for a long time.

Whilst important, it is not thought leadership.

Second, changing and future client demand. Where will the work of tomorrow come from? That tomorrow maybe in the short term – the next 12-18 months – but also the next two to five years.

And this is where a firm’s thought leadership programme should focus.

Now is the time to plan those campaigns.