Planning for 2022 with resilience, creativity, flexibility, purpose and empathy

As we near the end of another year of change for the communications industry, we hosted a webinar with Signal AI, looking at the opportunities for communicators in 2022. I joined Baffour Badu, Enterprise Account Director, Marketing Solutions at LinkedIn; HSBC’s Head of Content and Campaigns, Global Commercial Banking, Kate Woodyatt; and Melissa Kanter, Head of Communications & Brand Experience at ING Americas, on the panel. With Georgie Weedon, Head of Global Comms for Signal AI, moderating, we reflected on the past 12 months and discussed the learnings we’ll all take into 2022.

From retaining talent, the growing need to talk ESG without greenwashing and changes in how we work, we dissected the impact that external influences have had on our industry during 2021. Our collective agreement was that next year we will be aiming to: 

Continue building resilience

The pandemic threw the world an unexpected curveball that no one person, nor business, could have prepared themselves for – but we’re getting through it and the communications industry is thriving. With a fourth wave of the virus spreading across Europe and new variants forming, we must take this resilience into 2022 and the continued unknown the pandemic brings. Change communication was at the core of 2021, and as we expect that to continue. The resilience we’ve built will continue to grow and flex into the next challenge.

Be nimble and creative 

When things change externally, it’s our role as communicators to ensure the firms we represent – and their communications strategies – adapt to those changes. We’ve all enjoyed trying new things this year and have learnt a lot. The trick is in knowing when to stick with what we know and when to pivot. Firms that are thriving have been nimble in their internal communications and ways of working; adapted their planning cycles to a primarily ‘always on’ approach; and have continued to actively bring creativity to problem solving, exciting their clients and colleagues.   

Have a sense of purpose

For several years now, ESG has been high on the business agenda. As 2021 draws to an end, we’re navigating what the real outtakes of COP26 were and it has never been more important. Firms which have a true sense of purpose, which comes from the heart and the people who represent it, will thrive. Those that are taking action, have a genuine sense of purpose when it comes to sustainability, and aren’t talking about for the sake of it, will find their comms around what they are doing and why, far easier than those guilty of greenwashing. It’s past the time to take it seriously. Now we need to spend time understanding how to really make a difference, start to make change and then communicate it. 

Recognise the value of empathy

The pandemic has made us all more appreciative of the situations our colleagues, clients, peers and competitors are facing. And our lives now have been an adjustment to us all. As a part of this our traditional ways of working have shifted, for good and sometimes not-so-good.

This translates directly into how we communicate internally within our organisations and with external stakeholders. Being truly empathetic to how these groups are feeling helps us to be more human in our storytelling and more impactful in how we land our messages. 

So … the upshot is five big words for 2022. Resilience, creativity, flexibility, purpose and empathy. A lot to aim for, a lot to keep us busy, and more importantly a lot to be thankful for when it comes to what we’ve learnt during 2021.

Want to know more? You can watch the full webinar here.

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