Simon Cunningham, Account Director, Lighthouse Communications

It’s safe to say we aren’t going to forget 2020 in a hurry. In fact, how COVID-19 started out as a quaint issue thousands of miles away, before sweeping across news channels all over the world, will doubtless be one of those stories that we tell our grandchildren.

The changes to our lifestyles and the business environment were so tumultuous, that the story almost belonged to the pages of a fictitious novel. No surprise then, that science fiction movies such as Contagion and Outbreak stormed to the top of the charts on streaming services at the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown.

And as the story of our year changed so dramatically, so did our plans for the future, in both the short and long term.

So how did we react? By changing those plans of course.

We immediately adjusted how we lived our lives, working from home, utilising online tools like never before, and for those of us with children, juggling being teacher, parent, and breadwinner all into one.

It is the same for all organisations and our clients.

It is about going back to the strategy drawing board, back to basics, asking what the communications objectives are and – crucially – who are the stakeholders.

We set objectives and rank stakeholders for all our clients, but this is not a box ticking exercise. It must be revisited regularly to ensure strategy aligns. Especially so during periods of significant change.

Understanding who your audiences are, how they have been impacted by change, and the effect on how we engage and communicate with them, is fundamental.

The strategy that flows from that understanding will be more than issuing a press release, encompassing traditional and digital media, stakeholder relations, public affairs and beyond.

Our stories are never straightforward and as they evolve either because of the impact of an external force (such as COVID-19) or due to a fresh outlook, our strategies must do also.