It is important for any business to have an understanding of the landscape of your industry and to consider any external impacts. Whether it’s an opportunity or a threat, any impact could influence the direction of your business’ strategy. This is where a useful task like horizon scanning comes in to play, to ensure you’re aware of anything that may arise.
Keeping up-to-date with activities not only within your industry but also outside of it, will help you prepare and determine your strategy accordingly. It could be a change in government policy or simply a tweet – whichever form it comes in, our guide can help you with horizon scanning.
At Pelican we understand that each business is different to the next one and there isn’t one right way to study the landscape for all industries. However there are common factors that can help you and your organisation, from understanding your audience to reacting to changes.
What to look for
There is a constant need to focus on the issues that are important to your business and knowing what these are is key to understanding what to look out for. This will help you define the topics that are important and whether an activity has a negative or positive impact for your organisation.
Having a clear view of the landscape will help you to form a plan for your business, but keeping a regular eye on activities will help you react to any unexpected changes and help you form a strategy.
Influencers and your audience
By having an understanding of your business’s main focus, you will be able to get an idea of who your influencers are; through researching trade media, newspapers and social media, you will be able to find these prominent figures.
One factor not to ignore when considering what is important for your business is knowing your audience, understanding their behaviour and what they’re searching for. Knowing who else, apart from you, is an influencer for them and observing those influencers’ activities, will determine your future plan.
Higher power changes
Changes in government policies can have a significant impact on any business, however there are times when some organisations lose out on the opportunity to react to these changes because they’ve kept themselves in the dark.
Using the recent launch of the GDPR policy as an example, this affected all businesses up and down the country. How most businesses reacted to it was to talk about it, involving themselves in the conversation and setting an example by demonstrating their expertise and proving how GDPR compliant they are. By doing so, these businesses allowed enough time to prepare for the new policy, instilling confidence in their audience.
To keep up to date with government changes or comments, signing up to services such as DODS’ PoliticsHome will provide you with crucial knowledge and insight in the form of daily emails to ensure you’re kept in the loop. Through the handy They Work For You website, you can also set up email alerts from MPs and subscribe to alerts when keywords or debates you’ve selected are being discussed.
Which tools to use
Whichever issue or topics are most important for your business, the range of tools available for you to use tend to be the same for all industries.
- Social media helps to get a view of what is being discussed within your network; whether there has been a new announcement or a growing issue, it is more than likely being discussed on a social media channel. Hootsuite is a useful platform to perform social listening and check whether there are any topics relevant to your organisation being talked about. Tweetdeck is also great to keep a track of multiple topics and hashtags in one screen.
- Sign up to Google Trends, subscribe to alerts and if possible RSS feeds, so you can be regularly updated as and when there are new announcements.
The best way to react
- Once you’ve recognised an issue that you and your organisation will need to respond to, it’s always a good idea to start from the source. For example, if a journalist raised the issue, it’s worth contacting them to find out what their next steps are, or if there is a way for you to work together and form a strategy, taking control from the outset.
- To help you with your plan you can have a look at BuzzSumo to see what kind of content is out there that is relevant to the issue. Answer the Public collates all the questions users are asking Google – both tools will help determine the direction of your strategy and how you can set yourself apart from your competitors.
- Depending on the scale of the issue it’s always useful to seek professional guidance and find the best possible resolution. Our experts at Pelican Communications are on hand to provide advice in any situation.
Pelican Communications is a specialist in the environment & CSR, food, packaging & logistics and trade association sectors and offers a range of services such as strategy, design, content creation, public relations and people development.
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