5 tips for horizon scanning

Keeping an eye on up-coming threats and opportunities that will influence your organisation can be the difference between future success and failure.

Whether it’s consumer trends, changing legislation or a growing issue on social media, horizon scanning is a vital part of the communications toolkit.

Every organisation is different so there is no one-size-fits-all answer to horizon scanning, but there are some general rules. Here are our top five tips to getting your horizon scanning right.

Be clear about what to look for

With so much information available through such a wide variety of traditional and new media sources, there is an ever-increasing need to focus on the issues that really matter to your organisation.

The first thing to do is define the topics that really matter to your organisation. Proposed legislation, changing social trends or technological developments can all be subjects you want to watch as they may affect you positively or negatively.

Once you’ve identified the topics then work out where they’re likely to be discussed as this will enable you to track the issues effectively.

Go where your influencers go

If you don’t already know, then a little research can reveal where the people that influence your organisation get their information. For business-to-business organisations this is often still traditional sources like trade media and newspapers. Rather than reading through piles of papers and magazines you can easily set up alerts to track online versions, making your job easier.

It’s also worth signing-up to industry groups on social media platforms like Linked-in as the subjects being discussed can give you an insight into what’s influencing the influencers.

Keep an eye on the government

A change in legislation or comment in Parliament can have a massive impact on the reputation or prospect of any organisation. Too often we see organisations unaware of proposed changes to legislation or regulation when there is an opportunity to do something about it.

There are basic steps you can take here. The Government makes it easy to find out what is currently being consulted on – you can even set up email alerts for specific subjects and They Work for You can run alerts on mentions of any keyword(s).  

Pick some simple tools

One of the challenges is filtering information. Different people prefer different tools, but we find that Flipboard is a great way of bringing together information from a wide variety of sources. With some select searches, social media tracking tools like Hootsuite  work a treat and remember that a really specific Google alert can be invaluable.   

Do something about it

Spotting an opportunity or a threat is one thing; doing something about it is another. If, for example, a journalist raises an issue it may be worth calling them to find out what they are planning to do next, or if you can help them to work out that next step. Deciding how and when you should act can be a fine line to tread, so we’d always recommend the advice of public relations professionals.

Pelican Communications are specialists in the environmentfood and drinkoutdoor and leisure and packaging sectors and offer a range of services such as media relations, brand management, event management and people developmentContact us for marketing and communications expertise.