We’ve all learned some valuable lessons over the last 18 months, and it’s time to start applying those learnings to getting ready for 2022 in the comms industry. What’s working in the new normal for marketing and communications leaders—and what are they planning to do more of in the year ahead?
New research from award-winning independent agency 360PR+ finds brand leaders are feeling more focused than ever and, as a positive sign of things to come, planning to increase their marketing spend in 2022. There’s broad consensus that the challenges of the last 18 months made marketing and communications leaders better at what they do. Three-quarters (76 percent) said the pandemic has helped them prioritize objectives, more than half (57 percent) said the experience has opened their eyes to new approaches, and four in 10 (42 percent) agree that they are more nimble today as a result.
Of note, it points to the rise of the CEO as brand storyteller. Nearly all marketing and communications leaders surveyed (95 percent) recognize the importance of their organization’s top executive being an effective storyteller, with two-thirds (68 percent) planning to increase use of their most senior executives in brand communications in the coming year.
“We’ve witnessed this first-hand at 360, with the pandemic becoming a trigger-moment for thought-leadership and executives playing a more active, ongoing role in speaking for their brands and organizations, not just tied to expected financial events,” said 360’s Mike Rush, partner & EVP, in a news release. “That helps elevate a brand message in the marketplace with customers and other stakeholders and can benefit company culture, too, as employees see their organization’s executives as insightful and inspirational leaders in the larger landscape.”
According to 360’s research, marketers are more conscious of the role of company culture in brand-building today. Nine in 10 (91 percent) believe company culture plays a role in setting their brand apart. Related, marketing and comms leaders surveyed put purpose at the top of the list of things they’ll look to focus more on in 2022, with 58% saying communicating brand purpose is a priority.
Additional study highlights:
- Brands are doing a better job of increasing their reach and relevance with diverse groups of consumers. Forty percent say they have partnered with diverse influencers and slightly more (42 percent) say they’re focused on creating content that represents all audiences. Sixty-eight percent have used diverse media for brand outreach, including advertising (49 percent) and/or earned media/publicity with diverse media (37 percent).
- Even with the promise of in-person returning, many brands are doubling-down on virtual experiences, with 44 percent planning to hold more virtual events in 2022.
- Eighty-two percent say they expect their brands to take more stands on social issues moving forward, and 57 percent wish their organization was willing to take more risks.
360PR+ partnered with ENGINE GROUP to survey 200 marketing and communications decision-makers, including CMOs, CCOs, Senior VPs of Marketing/Communications, VPs of Marketing/Communications, and Senior Directors/Directors of Marketing/Communications at companies with at least $50 million in annual revenue. The interviews were conducted June 23-July 9, 2021.