Communications has come a long way since I started working in PR in the late 1990s. Whereas it was once simply about the thud factor of a cuttings book, discerning clients now demand evidence of impact. PR and marketing must be tied to clear objectives and commercial goals.
It can be as simple as measuring audience engagement levels – if more people are engaged, we assume that they are more likely to advocate and act. But demonstrating impact often means looking at the effect of communications activity on company reputation and levels of trust.
To influence both requires an understanding of how people are likely to react to different messages, media channels and individual communicators. That’s part of the reason our work is underpinned by the latest thinking from behavioural science. Theory and practice shows how we need to appeal to emotion as much as rationality. Facts and basic information are unlikely to hit home unless they are presented as an effective story that targets the gut as much as the brain.
We have worked with the legal regulator, the Legal Services Board, to show how the latest theories can be used to help consumers make better decisions. We recently developed a behaviour change toolkit for Raleigh International, the sustainable development charity, to inspire volunteers and communities across the world. We also helped Fidelity’s pensions team apply the latest ideas in the run up to the introduction of auto-enrolment.
Fidelity is just one of a number of clients to use new insights to demonstrate thought leadership. We regularly work with accountancy firms, banks, lawyers and business consultancies to provide a fresh perspective on pressing industry challenges. In doing so, we help organisations use thought leadership to differentiate from the competition and open up new commercial conversations.
A founder of the business, I split my time between Linstock’s offices in Leeds and London. Prior to Linstock, I ran the UK corporate communications practice at Gavin Anderson & Company, which is part of the Omnicom network. I’m also a trustee at the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, an award-winning charity that supports the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit.