Corporate communications: 2023 trend watching

In this blog series, Sefiani explores the key communications trends you need to be across for the coming year. Use these insights to inform and shape your communications strategy and create impact and influence with your audiences in 2023. In the article of the series, Mandy Galmes, Managing Director ANZ at Sefiani, gives her take on the macro trends and stakeholder cynicism influencing corporate communications now and into the future.

Investment in corporate communications will set brands apart in 2023

By Mandy Galmes

Amidst the volatility of cost-of-living pressures, a persistent decline in economic growth and geopolitical tensions, the value of credible and authentic corporate communications continues to climb.

However, I am concerned we may see a growing chasm between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ – those that do continue to invest in communications, and those that cut communications budgets as a precautionary measure in the current market.

Companies that communicate well will outpace competitors

Quantifiable data about the role of communications before, during and after market turbulence is hard to come by. But if we look at communications’ close cousin, marketing, then we can see that businesses that invest in marketing during the tough times perform better when the market rebounds, then the same must apply to communications.

Fundamentally, this comes down to trust, purpose and memorability. Stakeholders expect these things from companies every day of the week, not just when a company is fairing well. In fact, it’s when a company is facing their most difficult moments in time that stakeholders want the most reassurance and connection. Savvy companies recognise this and are already investing in more, and more clear communications. This is the year of corporate communications.

Everything is up for scrutiny

It’s not just your polished corporate reports, financial statements and websites that provide a window into your company and corporate culture. It’s social media, disgruntled employees, activist consumers and savvy investors and stakeholders that are less likely than ever to take a CEOs word as gospel.

This means corporate communicators need to don their black hats more often and consider the risks in every piece of communication. Does your research stand up against scrutiny. Do your facts align with accepted standards. Are your messages consistent over time. And if the answer is no to any of these (or other) questions, then is your leadership prepared to tackle these challenges head on? Because the challenge is coming. And corporate action leads the way in building trust with audiences it only does so if it is authentic, consistent and contextually relevant.

A public stance isn’t a marketing tool

Public displays of support for an issue or a cause one day of the year are increasingly coming across as tokenistic. The cynic in each and every one of your stakeholders understands how marketing works and they want more than slogans or black out social media pages. They want action and accountability.

The march towards truly responsible business will mean more transparency for stakeholders – access to data, the good and the bad, and people to prove that change is on the horizon. But it also means providing stakeholders with access to a voice and an opportunity to shape the future.

Take the current push back against International Women’s Day – the one day of the year we pause to reflect on how we are progressing on gender equality, pay equity and development opportunities. Australia’s first International Women’s Day was held in 1928 in Sydney. Nearly 100 years later and the national gender pay gap still sits at 14.1 per cent. Purple cupcakes one day a year are not the solution for fixing a gap that stubbornly refuses to close. It takes 364 days, year on year to walk toward true change.

Listening will be a core component of corporate communications in the future. Listening, testing, repeating back, tweaking. We all need to be more comfortable using communications to accurately reflect on our stakeholders, what they want and how they feel, and to be more intentional about where we, as business leaders and communicators, can have the most beneficial impact.

Top tips for enhancing your corporate communications:

  • Resist the urge to pull back on corporate communications in the face of a difficult market.
  • Assume you will be challenged on everything, and be prepared to defend statements with proof points and data.
  • Ditch the cupcakes and instead provide updates and data on how your company is effecting change.
  • Listen more, and more deeply, to inform better communications.

Ready to learn how Sefiani can boost corporate communications for your business? Reach out today to arrange a discussion with our team of corporate communications experts.

Woman in corporate communications pointing at whiteboard in office