Blog post

How to Achieve Excellence in 8 Critical MarComms Priorities

By Alexandra Earl | September 26, 2022 | 0 Comments

2022 was the 12th year we’ve hosted the Gartner Communications Awards, to recognize the fantastic achievements of Communications -and now Marketing -professionals across the globe. It’s been another challenging year engaging key audiences through the pandemic, in an increasingly noisy and complex environment. So, what did our winners do, to stand out as leaders in key areas of their profession?

1. Brand: In this category we received a number of outstanding examples, from executing brand strategy that delivers competitive advantage, to defining brand metrics that convey the strategic value of brand investments to stakeholders in the enterprise, and brand roll-outs that help employees “live” the brand, inspiring them to actively advocate for it.

The ultimate winner, Definity Financial Corporation, succeeded in involving stakeholders at all levels to ultimately develop a brand that would truly stand out from the crowd in this highly competitive and polarized environment.

2. Change: Compared with last year’s entries, organizations appeared to have gone back to basics when it came to change. Amongst these well-executed change plans, Accenture demonstrated the best example of driving behavioral change and impacting business results. In particular, the judges were impressed by their use of listening exercises, personas, targeted communications, and, crucially, measurement.

3. Measurement: Overcoming the challenge of linking our work to business-critical outcomes will be essential for the future of Marketing and Communications. But, as evidenced by the low number of submissions for this category, few excel in this category. This highlights a couple of key issues: One, communicators don’t invest sufficiently in measurement and reporting innovation. Two, they shy away from broadcasting their achievements. Arizona Department of Environmental Quality overcame this, with their winning example of tackling behavior change, and barriers to those desired behaviors, to help contribute to a tangible organizational outcome.

4. Employee Experience: Whereas previous entries focused on ways to strengthen the employee experience, this year digital tools were a key focus. How do we develop an all-encompassing intranet that truly engages our employees? And how do we demonstrate how the employee experience has had an impact on the business?

Medtronic succeeded here with their culture rollout, in which they incorporated research into every step of the process. They identified different personas for employee groups and drafted learning journeys, mapping the different stages of learning for employees around the company’s cultural traits. They stood out as leaders in employee experience with this organized and targeted approach to developing their culture.

5. ESG/ Sustainability & DEI: Two key trends emerged in this category. Firstly, approaches were highly creative and diverse. And secondly, demonstrating business impact of these creative initiatives was the key challenge. This is critical as budgets are expected to be squeezed with the looming threat of recession, talent shortages, and ongoing supply chain issues.

Schneider Electric’s “Green Yodha” campaign was selected as the winning entry for clearly demonstrating impact on the specific business objectives they were supporting, such as achieving carbon neutrality for their entire supply chain by 2040. They were also able to demonstrate how the awareness and impact of this campaign led to over 3,600 additional qualified leads, despite the low economic activity caused by the third COVID-19 wave.

6. Excellence in MarComm Technology: The pandemic has dramatically accelerated a cultural shift to digital. As more consumers gravitate towards online channels, companies and industries have responded in turn. Innovative use of AI and data-driven strategies now separates the leaders from the pack.

The overall winner in this category was GSK for their Streamline campaign. Their vision was to establish a one-stop-shop for marketeers producing content – a place to gain inspiration and immerse themselves in the brand, find reusable content and ultimately initiate the creation, approval and storage of new content. This was a MarTech roadmap with impressive operational implementation, significantly improving their strategic and practical ability to deliver great marketing.

7. Reputation: Views on reputation management varied considerably, but two key takeaways stood out. Firstly, it starts from within. The impact of employee experience on corporate reputation and financial health is more evident than ever. Philip Morris International, this year’s Winner, incorporated a two-phased approach to engage their most important stakeholders. A virtual CEO listening tour with employees across functions and geographies coupled with traditional announcements drove record engagement among employees. It also helped integrate internal and external messaging strategies.

Secondly, while we saw creative approaches to driving positive reputation among this year’s entries, many lacked a measurement framework that could demonstrate how their reputation-driving efforts drove behavior change among specific stakeholder groups. Measuring perception for perception’s sake sets communications leaders back and minimizes their ability to articulate how their work impacts the bottom line.

8. And finally, Small idea, Big Impact: Given the storm of economic headwinds heading our way, the good news is that not all activities need a huge budget to get them off the ground. Interestingly, the two winners for 2022 focused their efforts on supporting talent attraction and recruitment, within an incredibly tight labor market. We are increasingly seeing Comms and Marketing getting involved in recruitment, as organizations struggle to cope with the ‘Great Resignation’ and war for talent.

The Winner for this category was awarded to Raising Canes Chicken Fingers for their 50 in 50 campaign. It involved employees from all parts of the company working within their restaurants and sharing experiences on social media to promote the roles. These grassroots stories drove media interest, accelerating awareness and driving more hires. The judges praised this campaign for achieving demonstrable business results.

So what can we learn from all this? Communications and Marketing professionals continue to show resilience, creativity and innovation in engaging audiences despite the increasing level of noise that stands in their way. However, to truly succeed in these professions, it’s crucial to evidence your success. Aligning campaigns and approaches with business goals and demonstrating veritable impact on business outcomes is non-negotiable if you want to be leaders of the pack.

Do you have impressive achievements to share? Our 2023 Gartner Awards launches on October 3rd -and will now include categories for Communications AND Marketing professionals equally! We’d love to see you showcase your work. For more information, check out our 2023 Awards Website!

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