Time to transform: Why SMEs need agility and creativity in post-Covid communications
Covid-19 is the biggest societal challenge for a generation. Over the past months, political and business leaders have produced thousands of articles discussing the urgent need to reconfigure our lives and our businesses to respond. And while their profound calls for change may seem startling for SMEs in the region, there are lessons that we can all take on board, and opportunities to seize.
As Jeremy Gutsche, CEO and Founder of Trendhunter.com points out, it’s smaller firms with new ideas and the agility to adapt that outpace their larger rivals when times are turbulent. Many of the world’s most famous brands were born in a recession; Disney and HP to name two.
Society has changed and so have our expectations. PwC’s recent CEO Panel Survey, on the outlook for growth and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the way businesses operate, identified the rising expectation of customers and stakeholders as a key challenge. How we buy from businesses, our demand for flexibility and how we judge them based on their values have all changed. Standing still is no longer an option. SMEs that embrace that challenge will thrive, generate new ideas, react to changing customer/stakeholder and outshine their competitors.
Importantly, though, companies also need to communicate their strategy and successes to the outside world. Businesses that invest in PR during a downturn are known to emerge in a stronger position, but the communications needs to be even more relevant and well-considered.
Adapting to this vastly different world takes bravery, creativity, and agility, which is where engaging a strategic PR Communications agency can make the difference between survive and thrive.
The right partnership can help your business make sense of the changing landscape, identify and seize opportunities for growth. Exploring ideas should be part of the plan to recover and build from the difficult past six months. External expertise from a PR or creative agency provides fresh eyes and switched-on minds to challenge status quo, provide market insight and strategically plan a way forward in the continuing reality of a post-Covid world. It can work with your in-house marketing team, or become your own expert external team, in the drive to achieving your business objectives.
Finding the right agency might seem challenge and the temptation to trust the big boys is understandable. But, when budgets are tight and you need to move fast, it is the smaller agencies that can bring this fresh thinking and flexibility. Here are our key tests:
Agility and Costs
An agile agency with a bank of industry specialists and freelancers is a natural fit for those SMEs who have an eye on budget but want the best people, at the right time. Boutique and ‘virtual agencies’ build expert teams that fit that bill. They work by fulfilling each client’s needs for both long and short-term projects, fitting timetable and budget. They don’t carry the costs of a ‘bricks and mortar’ agency so are able to offer the best fit, best people, and great value overall.
Investigating new proposals or customer offers, shaping them and bringing them to market is a creative effort that requires expert support. You need the right senior people around the table to support your team. Find an agency that’s able to offer the insight, creativity and expertise you need, and you will quickly appreciate that their value to your business goes well beyond the simple press release.
Find an agency that you can trust from the get-go. This is critical for the PR team to represent your company and deliver the best results. They must have a proven track record of building reputations and supporting growth, so ask to see their testimonials and examples of their work.
Through the pandemic, as a boutique agency, we have helped existing and new clients seize opportunities, build reputation, and continue to build relationships with their customers and stakeholders. We work with a range of experts and flexible consultants who are aligned with our clients’ briefs and budgets. We have found our ‘virtual model’ is perfectly suited to growing, recovering and niche SME businesses who need a pragmatic, results-focused approach.
At the start of the year, no one could have foreseen the profound change and devastation that Covid would bring with it. As we take stock and adjust, we must focus on the future and create businesses that adapt to what is yet to come. Agility, creativity and partnerships will be more critical than ever to building and maintaining successful businesses as we recover. Finding the right PR agency to partner with and support you will provide the key to unlock your potential and deliver value.
By Rebecca Middleton MCIPR, MPRCA,
Director, Middleton Davies
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