The Landscape Analysis: Five Steps to Start 2021 Right


To succeed in 2021, we recommend “the Landscape Analysis” as the best way to catalog, evaluate and improve your situation. The analysis answers:

  • What is the environment?
  • What place do we hold within this environment? Why is this so? Is it likely to continue?
  • What do we need to know now to improve our position?

Even if you think you know the answers, the current atmosphere indicates a need to reassess the communication environment.

The landscape of which we speak is the business environment. It is comprised of external actors: your customers, competitors, shareholders, regulators, journalists, social media influencers, politicians and local community groups in cities where you conduct business.

It also incorporates the changing business, cultural and societal norms that dictate what it takes to be an admired organization. Last, it includes internal stakeholders, such as senior executives, employees and peers, to address in-house factors such as new developments within your organization.

To begin, fully understand senior executives’ expectations, preferences and values as they relate to communication: What do they value most? Least? How does PR perform against these priorities? To succeed, uncover the metrics by which senior executives measure PR success. You must also reaffirm the professional attributes they consider most and least important, as well as how well you perform against those preferences.

The Landscape Analysis involves setting the stage for what comes next: objectives setting, planning, activation and evaluation. To accelerate your Landscape Analysis and efforts to achieve a clean-slate PR rebirth, we offer five steps:

  1. The most essential step in any discovery process is to know its purpose. What do you hope to learn? Which questions must you ask, and of whom, to achieve your goal?
  2. Once you set objectives, determine the resarch’s breadth. One meaningful factor to consider is the organization’s priorities. Does it aspire to a purpose beyond sales? In addition, think about the priorities of your internal and external stakeholders. Include executives with influence over PR funding. And those who will evaluate the PR function, as well as employees and peers in adjacent departments.
    The Landscape Analysis should reveal the degree to which your messaging aligns with the objectives of your organization as well as priorities of your stakeholders, domestically and internationally. Aim to gain new insight into your competitors’ activities and the extent to which they’ve succeeded or fallen short in reference to your objectives.   
  3. The third step requires communicators to identify what they need to know about each stakeholder. For every group, seek to learn what’s important and how PR is performing. For example, with media coverage and social media activity, assess message frequency, reach, tone and the degree to which PR delivered the intended, as well as unintended, message. For customers, demographic and firmographic information help to identify the media stakeholders favor. Media analysis, social media listening and surveys reveal the answers to these essential questions.
  4. Once you understand the objectives, scope and data intelligence you need, it’s time to conduct research and probe the data with a variety of tools and methods to produce the analysis. You must also answer the essential quality-related question of ‘What’s good enough’?
  5. The final step involves synthesizing and analyzing the data to uncover insight and explore implications. To draw insight from research, consider engaging marketing and HR colleagues. Only after thoughtful vetting, should you present to senior leadership findings and recommendations along with implications. Leadership’s buy-in enables you and your communication team to proceed with minimal risk. Catalogue any conclusions drawn from the Landscape Analysis meetings with top executives and attain final authorization before executing the recommended steps.

We operate in challenging times, but research and evaluation equip us to make better decisions at these moments.

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