Data and Information Help Shape Strategic Plan, Stronger Together: IABC2025
According to one of several key findings in proprietary research recently conducted by IABC, business communication professionals face challenges in engaging audiences’ attention and are looking for new strategic and tactical approaches.
The quantitative research included almost 200 global participants offering assessments of their largest professional challenge. In addition, IABC analyzed key global trends impacting the communications field. The insights from all of the research informed the discussions, planning and details of our newly released four-year strategic plan, Stronger Together: IABC2025.
Communications Professionals Cite Their Top Challenge
Respondents noted four overarching challenges facing communication professionals today:
- Fragmented audiences and the speed of change require new skills and ways of working (39%).
- Almost a quarter of respondents highlighted a fractured audience base and the difficulty in reaching tired, distracted stakeholders. Interestingly, that opinion was shared by many more corporate communicators than agency professionals.
- An additional 15% of respondents noted the constant change in communications technology and channels. Where some saw this as a challenge, others saw opportunity, saying that the value they brought to an organization was shifting from pure communications skills toward being an effective persuader and coach in adopting new technologies, processes and ways of working.
- An increased workload, both in time and responsibilities, is affecting corporate and agency professionals (17%).
- The pandemic has rearranged communications teams, resulting in the addition of responsibilities for crisis and change communications to an already full portfolio.
- Professionals feel overloaded as remote work, the pressure to communicate immediately through multiple channels and the number of things to communicate puts stress on staff.
- Competing organizational priorities have resulted in smaller communications budgets and fewer resources for those professionals (13%).
- Career development (8%) and mistrust of business (8%) remain significant barriers in accomplishing individual and team goals.
Global Trends Impacting the Profession
In addition to the quantitative research, IABC identified six global trends shaping how communications professionals are working and will work in the future. The trends are: population growth and demographic change; evolving means of communications; new world order; digitalization; increase in communicators requiring professionals to offer higher-level counsel; and societal movements.
The global trends revealed specific issues for communications professionals to consider, including:
- Distrust toward leaders, institutions and the media will continue to grow, with nationalism, protectionism and populism on the rise.
- Number and speed of platforms and channels will continue to increase, as communications encompasses text, audio and video.
- Now that people can work remotely, technology is creating flexibility and competition for communications professionals.
- Organizations’ ability to access free online content will put pressure on communications professionals to offer more strategic counsel.
- Personalization and consumer experience will be the next competitive battleground as marketing and sales channels merge.
- Workplace diversity and adapting to hybrid office/home environments will be key to a thriving workplace culture.
IABC Strategic Plan Outlines Approach and Tools to Succeed in the New Environment
Using the quantitative and qualitative research, IABC engaged in discussion, analysis and a determination of priorities. The result is Stronger Together: IABC2025, a six-pillar strategic plan divided into two broad areas: How We Will Operate and How We Will Grow.
How We Will Operate focuses on internal operations:
- Stronger Together
- Digitally Transformed
How We Will Grow focuses the benefits of membership, addressing the issues raised in the research:
- Delivering Value
- Advancing the Profession
- Championing My Career
Among the many ways we will help professionals in a changing world is providing career development, advocating for the profession, encouraging a creative mindset, exploring new technology, hosting industry-leading conferences, producing thought-leadership and recognizing award-worthy work.
This is an exciting time to be a communications professional and an IABC member.
Please contact our headquarters staff with any questions about the research or the strategic plan.
The IABC Strategic Planning Task Force