AB Thinks  →  25th February 2020

Channel surfing – exploring the challenges for internal comms

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I recently took part in a fascinating webinar exploring channel planning and optimisation, organised by our friends at Staffbase. It provided a really valuable opportunity to look at the challenges faced by teams across sectors.

It’s clear that, with limited budgets and changing workforces, many organisations continue to struggle to develop an affordable and cohesive channel mix that reaches the right people, at the right times.

Perhaps that’s why the print vs digital debate rages on. Yet it feels to me like a bit of a red herring – a debate too often fuelled by emotion, assumption and siloed thinking. In my opinion, neither print nor digital is intrinsically superior, more successful or more disruptive than the other.

Despite some widely held assumptions, both print and digital can be relevant to pretty much every audience. Both are scalable, both are measurable. To say older workers prefer print is reductive, to assume millennials are obsessed with social and selfies is insulting.

So, when asked to make a call on which channels to prioritise, where do we start?

Looking at the landscape more broadly, the way we think about media has changed beyond recognition. Our attention flows seamlessly between channels. The magic happens when the content is perfectly matched to format, and when it contributes to an overarching, cross-channel narrative. It’s the overall brand experience that we take away from this, rather than a preference for an individual channel.

In a recent episode of The IC Podcast, Chuck Gose admits that when he started in IC he had personal channel bias, adding that its fundamental to focus on where your audience is and what it enjoys.

Yes, some channels have more capacity to reach certain audiences, some are more collaborative and interactive. There are also specific challenges around reaching diverse and/or frontline audiences. There is absolutely a need to make choices and allocate budgets accordingly. However, I believe we make these decisions far more intelligently when we throw our assumptions – and our own biases – out of the window.

Those who get this right start their channel planning process by listening and with an open mind. Taking the time to segment audiences intelligently, explore the expectations and preferences of those audiences and test a range of creative solutions will inevitably deliver a stronger channel suite in the long-term.

At AB, we put listening at the centre of our channel planning approach. And while our decades of experience give us a great starting point for understanding what works and what doesn’t, we remain humble. We know things change and that no two audiences are the same. We believe in testing assumptions, exploring our options and trying new things.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this age-old debate. Tweet us @abthinks to join the conversation.

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