As December unfolds, our thoughts naturally turn to the year ahead, crafting plans and setting priorities. Yet, for those of us immersed in the world of public policy and government affairs, setting priorities often entails brainstorming and educated conjecture. With an absence of robust and actionable information, strategic planning often leans heavily on intuition, making organisations overly reliant on personal judgement and leaving little flexibility for unforeseen factors that might not have been taken into account.
However, for our clients, this isn’t enough. They’ve told us they need a solution which filters out the noise and gives them a data-driven recommendation of what specific policy and government affairs issues they should focus on in the year ahead, what emerging issues are likely to break out and what their stakeholders are actually thinking. The approaching year in particular stands poised as a pivotal juncture, as the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom prepare for critical elections, creating a highly dynamic global environment where it is even more difficult for clients to discern what is genuinely relevant amid the volume of information.
Accurately predicting future issues and understanding stakeholder perspectives can provide businesses with a strategic advantage over those who don’t. However, for organisations large and small there are quite literally thousands of different external issues that could have an impact on them but only a finite amount of time and resources to manage them. Navigating this complexity may seem daunting, if not impossible. Is it feasible to move beyond informed guesswork and confidently identify upcoming issues?
Predicting the future is challenging, as recent history has shown with the influence of unprecedented events. However, making robust, evidence-based assumptions about how certain issues or topics are
likely to develop becomes possible with the right approach.
At Penta, we approach things differently. As well as human expertise, we also draw on our vast dataset and our own AI that enables the identification of upward and downward trends, potential threats, and stakeholder views across a range of issues and sectors. The data pool may change based on the organisation, sector, or desired outcome, but the tools at our disposal cut through noise and go beyond gut instinct, providing organisations with a clearer evidence base and understanding of their operating environment:
1. Issue momentum and evolution:
For many organisations, identifying which external, corporate, regulatory and industry issues are the most likely to impact their organisation now and in the future is critical to business success. Policy and regulatory affairs strategies can only focus on so many issues and we can help you identify what these should be. With the vast data set that we have at our disposal, at Penta we can look at thousands of existing issues and assess the magnitude and momentum of these issues over time, giving a fact-based and contextual projection as to the issues that will likely impact an organisation in the future.
This analysis takes into account thousands of different sources, assesses the prominence of voices discussing different issues and results in a structured, ordered list which enables organisations to make evidence-based, strategic decisions on their approach to anything from policy, strategy or stakeholders.
2. Predicting new trends:
In a highly competitive marketplace, identifying new opportunities and predicting emerging trends and movements can help businesses to develop a more proactive policy and regulatory affairs approach.
At Penta, as well as analysing existing issues and predicting their development we also offer the opportunity to help clients identify what’s next before an issue has hit the mainstream. Our tools combine the latest AI models, proprietary data collection techniques and cultural insights to uncover what matters sooner.
Our whitespace analysis approach looks at low-volume, high-velocity conversations which haven’t yet become established within everyday conversations to help predict what is about to break into people’s consciousness, so organisations can be better prepared for opportunities to come.
3. Primary research and stakeholder engagement:
Knowing what stakeholders think is critical to developing future external relations strategies that resonate with target audiences. Personal connections, experience and public information can give a solid impression of stakeholder opinion but going directly to the source gives the most accurate insight into stakeholder thinking.
At Penta, we have unique primary research capabilities, including with policymakers directly. We are the only organisation that systematically reaches actual policymakers and senior staff to get viewpoints and actionable insights on companies and issues in the U.S. and Europe.
Our research allows companies to strengthen partnerships with policymakers by honing in on the types of engagement that policymakers genuinely find most helpful. For example, our recent European policymaker research reveals that policymakers place a growing premium on candid, straightforward communication as well as reliable data to inform policy conversations. Insights like these allow businesses to develop informed strategies which are aligned with the actual views of policymakers rather than relying on instinct.
While perfect predictions remain elusive, informed and educated decisions can significantly improve business strategy. If you are looking to understand what issues will impact you most in the year ahead, how stakeholders perceive you or where there is untapped ground to expand your reach, our approaches go beyond gut instinct and give you a robust evidence base to build an informed future strategy. 2024 should be the time for a new approach.