Good news for PR: Business leaders now prioritise their employees, the environment and the media claims study

The latest global Worldcom Confidence Index (WCI) report highlights the priorities for business leaders after nine months of the pandemic. And all the main trends have implications for agencies and their clients alike. I’ve picked out three shifts that could signal where agencies should innovate their services in 2021.

1. The need to upskill and reskill and the impact on an employer brand
The largest increase in leader engagement between April and December 2020 was for upskilling and reskilling (up 160%). This moved the topic to the #1 for leader engagement. Retaining talent, the #2 topic for leader attention, had the second largest increase, up 124%. The combination of these two increases shows that businesses will need to have a clear and transparent policy about how they will develop their people if they want to retain their best talent.

I think the opportunities for agencies to become expert in employee communications, branding and engagement are significant.

Leaders' engagement level for topics - December 2020

2. The need to have a proactive environmental and sustainability policy
Engagement in sustainability issues more than doubled (up 104%). The decision by the Biden administration to re-join the Paris Agreement will create pressure on organisations of all types and sizes to have an active position on the environment.

Not only will companies need a clear environmental policy, but they will need to have a proactive strategy for communicating their approach if they want to win the hearts, minds and confidence of their audiences.

Changes in the level of topic engagement between April to December 2020

3. The need to be prepared for increased media scrutiny
Leaders’ engagement with the role and impact of the media doubled between April and December. This may indicate that the much-heralded demise of media relations is premature. Or it could be a recognition by savvy business leaders that the media will put them under the spotlight once government action in managing the pandemic leaves the daily news agenda. This provides numerous opportunities for services from crisis preparation to leadership messaging.

In my view, the insight from the WCI signals an exciting year ahead for those agencies that adapt to meet the areas business leaders focus on most.

Methodology

The WCI uses artificial intelligence to analyse the content shared in nine different languages by 54,000 CEOs and CMOs around the world. It highlights the topics with the highest levels of engagement and calculates the levels of confidence in dealing with those topics.

Written by Crispin Manners, CEO of marketing and advertising agency Onva Consulting