The future of communications: insight, strategy and results
Anyone who knows us well will know that Stand’s work is built on insight, strategy and results: these are the three pillars of our success.
Think of them as the before, during and after of a campaign or project.
Before we begin working with a client, we like to understand them, and what their audience needs and expects from them. This is so we can ensure nothing we say falls on deaf ears, and our work is always grounded in knowledge of the sector.
During any communications work we carry out, we are guided by an end goal. This is some sort of tangible outcome which helps define exactly what success looks like; this could be trying to redefine how we view life post-retirement or educating the public about the signs of a rare heart condition. Everything we do is based on an airtight strategy that works to get clients where they want to be.
And, as a result of these two things, we like to think we get results that matter – whether that’s one in-depth piece of coverage in the right publication, or a social media campaign that reached 50 of the right people. It’s been reassuring to see more clients interested in these tangible and meaningful results, and less wowed by vanity metrics; a trend we hope continues.
In a year where just getting through is something we all deserve a pat on the back for, we’ve had some interesting and exciting projects that show how, in the world of communications, some things will never be the same post-Covid. Here’s a few examples relating to a client I’ve worked on this year, the Grounds Management Association.
Our insight offering has grown this year, as organisations look to adapt to the new normal and better serve their audiences. As the leading not-for-profit membership organisation in the grounds sector, the GMA wanted to know what members needed from them moving forward. So, we set out to understand just that.
Using qualitative and quantitative analysis, including surveys, focus groups and interviews, we worked to understand what it was that members appreciated about the GMA, what would make it work better for them, and how they’d prefer to be communicated with. After six weeks of data gathering, we developed recommendations to inform any future decisions on membership.
Alongside our insight work, we’ve been working with the GMA throughout the last two years on other projects, too.
After helping the body rebrand from the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) to the Grounds Management Association at the beginning of this year, we needed a strategy that would help the GMA fulfil its goals of being a voice for the sector, increasing understanding of the varied nature of the role among the public, and elevating the standing of grounds managers within the wider context of sport.
To do this, we developed a campaign that highlighted how vital the sector was to sport, especially at a time when sport was in crisis due to the pandemic. Based on the GMA’s own research and consumer polling, we wrote the Back to Play report.
We found that, without urgent action, over 500,000 players will be unable to play football or rugby each week, and 170,000 players will be unable to play cricket per season, due to the dire state of pitches across the country – numbers that have been exacerbated by Covid-19.
This report highlighted to the general public how important pitches are to making sport possible, and showed the sector how central the GMA was to telling this story, fulfilling all the GMA’s communications aims.
With insight and strategy at the heart of our work with the GMA, we’ve been working hard to run a robust press office that gets grounds management firmly on the media’s agenda.
We’ve built relationships with journalists across national, regional, sport and trade media, and have shown many a whole other side to sport.
With the evergreen Back to Play report, we secured in-depth pieces in The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times, the I Paper and the Independent at launch. More recently, we’ve secured pieces in BBC Sport, The Daily Mail, the Evening Standard and across primetime ITV News channels, all of which put grounds management – and the GMA – front and centre.
Ultimately, this year has been tougher than ever in most sectors, including PR. As our MD Laura Oliphant likes to say, organisations can bury their heads in the sand (tempting) or, as the GMA has done, can communicate their way out of it, showing that they are open for business and will have their members’ back, whatever the year throws at them.
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