Written by Laura Iley

The oil price will start to recover in 2016. The market will remain in the doldrums for at least another two years. Place your bets everyone…

And a bet it would be, because nobody can accurately predict exactly how production levels, demand and the overall state of the world economy are going to pan out over the medium term.

But there is one thing we can all be sure of: the oil price will recover at some point.

In these challenging times many organisations are in strict survival mode, characterised by staff cuts, project cancellations and retrenchment.

Such reactions are understandable of course. However, it’s worth looking back at the way in which the financial services sector recovered from the apocalypse of 2008. Many companies paid a terrible price for over-zealous cutbacks. The recovery was sharper and earlier than most had predicted and those that had downsized too radically found it difficult to upscale. The net result was that a lot of big players lost market share; indeed some didn’t survive.

The same could be said about communications. It’s tough to regain share of voice after a period of sudden silence. The market never remembers old friends: it likes to make new ones, especially if they can offer better deals, flexibility and innovation. Communications catch-up is a difficult game to play.

But this isn’t just about keeping your head above the communications water. There is a strategic imperative in play here. Audience attitudes and expectations have changed since the beginning of the downturn. Messaging is sharper and more sophisticated. Communications channels are changing too.

The challenge for our clients is to protect the value of their brand and maintain their relevance in a changing market.

Change is the key word here. While the sector suffers a downturn, the market, the way it communicates and the messages it wants to hear are not standing still. Any organisation that thinks it can simply stop communications and then pick up where it left off when the market recovers may find that it has been left behind.

The quality of communications is critical in this context. It needs to be sharp, original, arresting and versatile. Great ideas can be communicated just as effectively via an image, tweet or LinkedIn Pulse blog as a full-blown media article. Indeed they should be coming at the target audience in various forms through various channels. It’s the only way to achieve consistency.

If you’d like to know more about our oil and gas experience, meet our team, or just talk about your communications challenges, please contact me at laura.iley@aspectuspr.com.

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