Industry moves to bridge growing consumer gap

Agencies and clients get guidance on how to boost communication effectiveness.

Britain's marketing communications bodies this week launched new guidance to their members to address concerns about engaging with hard-to-reach consumers.

The new joint publication comes after a survey suggested that six out of every ten agencies and clients agree that it is harder to reach consumers than ever before.

Now, the IPA, ISBA, the Marketing Communications Consultants Association and the Public Relations Consultants Association have combined to produce a guide explaining what makes a good communication strategy. Hamish Pringle, the IPA director-general, hailed it as "one of the most important projects the IPA has been involved in".

The guide is a response to what its authors describe as increasingly fragmented media, shorter attention spans by consumers, the internet explosion, the emergence of new communication channels and the relentless downward pressure on media budgets.

Guy Murphy, JWT's worldwide planning director and the guide's primary author, said: "The hottest questions on clients' lips at the moment are: 'How do I best deploy my entire communications budget?' and 'What roles should my agencies play in making and executing that decision?'"

The guide argues for an early agreement as to what the strategy's objective is and the consideration of communication as a whole, not just paid-for advertising.

It warns that ambition should not be allowed to run ahead of budgets and emphasises the importance of ensuring each channel used has a clear role to play. It also stresses the importance of deciding whether the strategy should be client- or agency-led, or a collaborative effort.

"All advertisers need to be smarter in the way they plan their communications," Debbie Morrison, ISBA's director of membership services, said.

- Leader, page 20.