Pandemic can be optimal time for self-analysis and planning

Hand writing with pencil in notebook

I don’t know about you, but it seems like 2020 would have been a much more appropriate year to launch the “ice bucket challenge.” Could there have been a more fitting metaphor for the cold splash of reality that descended on our collective heads earlier this year? And again several times since. We had anticipated being back in the office by Memorial Day, although we never did say in what year.

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Like many companies, we empaneled what we called our “New Normal Committee,” a group of us who met regularly to confront the emerging workplace realities, develop a path forward that made sense and test each other’s flexibility. The NNC also proved to be a productive forum for assessing strategy on a number of levels. As busy as we were and continue to be, the pandemic provided a timely impetus for us to take a step back, to evaluate our current planning and staffing and to devise ways to meet our objectives within a new and fluid environment.

Our clients also are using the surreal climate of the pandemic for some real self-analysis. And one productive strategy is to undertake a communications audit, which we call Hodges Insights. It’s a soup-to-nuts evaluation of a company’s communications efforts – strategy and tactics, messaging and market posture, audiences and competitors, collateral and digital platforms – all measured against a backdrop of industry best practices. We interview company leadership, front-line workers, clients, former and prospective clients. We review strategy and tactics, communications tools and staff, and we take an objective assessment of the competition. At the end of Hodges Insights, we not only land on a comprehensive appraisal of how the client is doing, but more importantly, a roadmap for where we think it needs to go.

As we approach the end of the calendar year, if you are finding that the new realities in your business are not measuring up to your expectations, it may be time for an audit, especially if you are seeking answers to questions like the following:

  1. What are my core marketing objectives? Have they changed?
  2. Are my current marketing efforts reaching the right audiences? What about emerging ones?
  3. What factors are most important to my prospects in making a buying decision? Are they different than before?
  4. Are we still spending our marketing budget in the right places?
  5. How effective are the various marketing tools we have traditionally been employing?
  6. What are our competitors doing better than we are? Have they adjusted better than we have?
  7. Which media outlets influence your customers and prospects? Are they still just as relevant?
  8. What metrics are we using to measure success? Are there new ones we should be considering?
  9. What are the demographic profiles of our best customers? Of our best prospects?
  10. How can we create more legitimate leads for our sales team?

Josh Dare

Josh’s career in communications spans more than four decades. In addition to providing strategic counsel and crisis communications direction to clients, he is the resident Writer-In-Chief, regularly writing op-eds and bylines on behalf of clients that have been published in The Washington Post, The Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Huffington Post, among others.

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