There’s a new playing field for communicators

The traditional grass football pitch at my son’s school is being torn out, and by the time the rentrée arrives, it will be replaced by a completely new surface. Brand new turf, similar to the natural grass that used to be there, but just different enough that players will have to find their footing again.

I find that the situation isn’t all that different for communication consultants and advocacy specialists in political capitals like Brussels and London these days.

The policy and communications landscape is changing. The last few years have brought a series of transformations that affect the way decision makers and influencers expect to receive information.

Throughout the pandemic, more than ever before, most communication took place through written channels, like email, chat and social media. Face-to-face interactions paused. The result has been a heightened importance of written and visual communication.

Meanwhile, an explosion of channels means attention spans are increasingly divided.

At the same time, AI is developing fast. And misinformation lurks everywhere, impacting the way we communicate.

All this means that effective communicators must now apply an extraordinary degree of intentionality. Messages must break through and data must convince. The bar for strategic creative solutions is (rightly) ever higher.

It also means that the services that consultancy firms provide are evolving. Policy campaigning, once reserved for only the largest of policy challenges, is a strategy that we now consider for all sizes of clients and all breadths of objectives. If educating and influencing is the goal, some element of campaigning can be leveraged.

It’s about informing the changing political landscape in a deliberate manner. Even with the most complex of issues, successful campaigns now marry traditional advocacy, policy and communications solutions with more in-depth storytelling, engaging visuals and emotive appeal.

Interacting multiple times and in multiple ways with an audience – ensuring that the touchpoints not only inform and educate, but that they truly inspire – is the hallmark of an effective communications effort.

Organisations reap benefits when they align their policy objectives and corporate communications goals. Integrated policy campaigning breaks down silos, enables consistent messaging and maximises the impact of advocacy initiatives.

A sound integrated policy campaigning strategy also incorporates measurement of results. Setting metrics on the communications activities themselves, as well as asking “has the desired policy outcome been achieved?” are must-haves.

An omni-channel approach is critical to success, and the teams that I’ve seen really hit it out of the park have a wide range of specialists: journalists, creative strategists, media planners, research consultants, designers and public policy experts. The game will forever be changing. So be prepared to play on whatever new landscape is in front of you.


Amy Johnson