Way back at the start of 2022 I shared my predictions for what the year would hold for us in Communications and Marketing. Then, in my last post I noted what I got right and what I got wrong.
Keeping up with the tradition – here's what I think 2023 will hold for Communications and Marketing in local government.
1. Austerity is back and so is scrutiny of communications and marketing spending.
We’ll all need to revisit that place where we look at spending through the lens of cynical media or a taxpayer. Thinking about splashing £10k on an influencer? Probably not smart, certainly through the first half of 2023.
Don’t forget, the council's budget position looks like worsening year-on-year over the next 4 years by a considerable degree. Plus, working with local content creators is usually better as they will be trusted more by your audience.
2. Sometimes, we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
However, most of the time, it’s still better to do. After a lack of transparency from national government during COVID, the public have a stronger sense of distrust.
One factor we should consider into communications and marketing planning is honesty. Even if it’s an unpalatable message, it may well be better shared with our audiences than held back.
3. Additionally, this will make our jobs harder because communities are still cynical.
Trust in central AND local government (and the media, to add to an already difficult dynamic) has never been lower. I’m not expecting a great deal of improvement when 2022’s Trust Index survey (thank you, Edelman) arrives early in 2023.
4. Next, Essex County Council’s budget will be the first big story of 2023, and not necessarily a positive one. But it’s still a big opportunity to explain what we do.
I like to think of budget as an ‘all-court’ opportunity. First, it is a chance for strong corporate messages, but also it’s a chance to shine a light on individual services and the range of what we do.
Critically – we will need to be joined up on our messaging and sequencing to be effective.
5. Following strike action from our colleagues in the health system, ambulances and nurses, we may see our own industrial unrest.
It’s been five years since I last handled comms on an industrial dispute in Essex, the Fire and Rescue service if anyone’s interested. It would not surprise me if Unison or the GMB (two of ECC’s main trades unions) balloted on strike action. Expect the disruption to continue into the Spring.
6. Leadership will be more important than ever, as will broad shoulders.
Sitting in the corporate team as we do, we’re here to help, support, coach, mentor, advocate, coordinate, and get a better result so.
7. The bigger picture still counts – climate change is still the biggest crisis of all.
In 2022, the year of Permacrisis, it’s easy to forget the biggest one of all. 40-degree temperatures again in 2023 anyone? I hope not.
8. But we need to get better at selling what we do. In a changing world, doing the basics well (and again and again if needed) is still important.
I absolutely guarantee if I asked five random people in the street what ‘retrofit’ was, none of them would know. Even if any of them did offer an answer it would probably be ‘is that something to do with 80’s-style shoulder pads on jackets?’ As ever, we need to communicate in easily accessible terms, always using plain English.
9. Transformation is also back, and it’ll likely be bigger this time around.
Let’s get used to changes and embrace them. New opportunities will quickly follow. Bend in the wind, don’t break.
10. Finally, in the toughest of times, organisations need more and better from their comms.
We are as important and relevant as ever.
More from the Communications and Marketing Team
Last year, the corporate Communications and Marketing team shared their highlights – and learning points – of 2022.