The 2021 AMEC Summit marked 25 years since the organisation’s creation. Bringing together 400 people across 38 countries, the virtual two-day event hosted a fantastic range of speakers covering a dynamic set of topics relevant to the communications and media evaluation industry.
It was also a fascinating opportunity to look back at a particularly tumultuous year and assess the impact that Covid-19 has had on the industry as well as society altogether.
Undeniably, 2020 shook many foundations and established new expectations, creating greater pressure on companies to communicate effectively and authentically. However, the year also brought fresh perspectives and an opportunity for companies to re-evaluate their position and objectives. Hearing from the speakers of the 2021 AMEC Summit, it was a combination of steadfast commitment to planning and preparedness, with a sprinkle of on-your-feet thinking that enabled communication leaders to best adapt to the change.
Planning: How do you plan the best way to communicate when the target audience is necessarily the whole of the UK? Alex Aiken, Catherine Hunt and Matthew Walmsley from the UK Government’s communications team discussed the need to be “iterative and agile”, localised, and to relinquish a classic KPI-oriented mindset in the face of a fast-changing situation. Robert Hoge of Queensland Health noted the importance of preparing public opinion surveys to plan the best communication approach, for the state’s lockdown updates. Research informed the balance between aspirational messaging and to-the-point clear communications.
Purpose: The pandemic shone the light on global injustices and inequality, seeing more people putting public and private organisations under the magnifying glass. Scrutiny of company values makes the clarity of purpose more key than ever before. ‘Truth Be Told’ authors David Gallagher and John O’Brien emphasised that purpose sits at the core of the business, warning of the danger in “jumping on the bandwagon” without true introspection. Sandra Macleod, Echo Research Group CEO commented, “Most companies’ values will now be tested and may well be the measure against which their reputation is assessed”. The public is more “sensitive and aware” to social issues, and with that comes a “greater need for strategic communications to manage cultural shift with consistent content and engagement”. Echoing this, Lilia Glazova of PR News stressed the need for “sincerity and compassion”, but also to “tread carefully”.
Proof: The AMEC Summit provided an exciting reminder of what data evidencing capabilities are at our fingertips. We’re able to be more data-driven and technologically savvy than ever. James Crawford of PR Agency One and Stella Bayles of Coveragebook discussed the potential of measuring Share of Search as a reflection of market share, while Alexander Hinckley Rose of Edwards Lifesciences showcased the impressive ways to organise and analyse mass-text to form insights. In combination with planning and purpose, the Summit reminded us that we must strive to be data-driven and evidenced. We must challenge our assumptions: Petra Masinova from Kantar portrayed the disparities between expectations and reality in public perception and how media is consumed. Fred Cook and Jonny Bentwood from Golin talked about the polarised news landscape, while Ori Sasson of S2T Unlocking Cyberspace urged caution in measurement around social media bots and fake engagement.