Budget 2021 – creating stand-out thought leadership

Is your Budget coverage relevant and fresh?

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Every year the Budget is a big event for the UK’s accountancy firms, and last week’s announcement by Rishi Sunak was no exception. The Budget is a time of year when businesses look to their accountancy advisors for guidance on how any changes may affect them and what they should do about it.

So, PwC set out key developments on a dedicated section of their website, as did Grant Thornton. Deloitte offered a series of practice leads explaining the tax, economic and regional impacts. KPMG gave us summaries, videos and also a webinar. PKF hosted a live commentary. Smith & Williamson presented the highlights in some eye-catching infographics and a podcast.

And so on. You get the picture. Everyone is making sure their voice is heard, and many firms are using some innovative and interesting formats to deliver the information to their audience. Notably, webinars and webcasts were the most favoured approach, with nine of the top ten firms running one.

It’s not just the large firms. I worked for many years as a business journalist, and the email address I used in that role is a still active. A quick glance at it on Budget day showed dozens of smaller firms also keen to comment.

But how effective is all this activity?

When we develop any thought leadership ideas with our clients, we run them through our seven criteria. Ideas that don’t measure up against all seven criteria tend not to deliver the impact we’re looking for.

The first two criteria we look at are relevance and freshness. I’d argue that, by and large, the response from accountancy firms to the Budget is neither relevant to its audience, nor fresh. All offer roughly the same generic reporting of the facts, and analysis, where it does exist, is broad. It’s thought followership, not leadership and it’s a missed opportunity.

The senior business decision-makers they’re trying to reach aren’t looking for topline information – they can get it from news sites. They’re looking for insightful analysis and opinion that’s relevant to them.

Accountancy firms, from the smallest to the largest, have the experts who can provide that insight, and we believe there is real scope in the Budget announcement – and other similar events – for a firm to find competitive advantage through a different approach.

Let the news sites and your competitors scrap to be first with the facts, and focus your energy on delivering fresh, relevant insight.

You can do this either by mapping messages in advance, or simply by taking a little longer with your response so you can formulate something more meaningful. However it’s done, it would stand out from the crowd, cutting through and getting the attention of the people who matter.

The clock to Budget 2022 is already ticking.

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