Welcome to the New Now – How Has This Changed Construction Communications?

As the UK starts to relax social restrictions we are returning to normal. But Chris Ashworth thinks it will be a very different normal to that of two years ago with construction communications permanently changed.

As we start to enjoy some relaxation of social restrictions following the pandemic, the construction industry continues to face new challenges. Having managed to operate sites under challenging social distancing rules, often adopting digital and DfM practices, the industry now has to cope with shortages of many key building materials. For product manufacturers there is also the challenge of engaging with decision-makers, many of whom have decided to adopt part-time home working on a permanent basis. Enabling this is the video call and new cloud-based software allowing product selection and design.

So habits in construction communications have changed, but by how much and in what way? We have been researching and publishing our Construction Media Index since 2008, during which time we have seen a number of changing trends. But when we conduct the research this year I expect to see some significant evolutions. Here are some thoughts and expectations:

Trust: We researched this for the first time in 2019, noting the information sources that decision makers did and did not trust. Since then we have seen some revelations about the way all members of the project team, as well as testing and certification bodies, behave. This must have significantly undermined people’s faith in the industry. There has also been the industry consultation into the Code for Construction Product Information, with the aim to set minimum standards for suppliers to follow. Recent focus groups we have facilitated highlighted to me the concern of specifiers about the quality of published information and the heightened awareness of accountability. So, expect Trust to play an even more important role in decision making.

Information Events: This is another area where we can expect significant change. In the past exhibitions, conferences and CPD seminars were major opportunities for product manufacturers to have face-to-face engagement with decision makers. With the opportunities for face-to-face meetings in the past year very limited there has been a significant growth in online events. This has advantages of convenience, and is more time efficient, but does not deliver the same experience. With the adoption of part time home-working by many organisations the virtual meeting is now the best option for sales people to engage with decision makers. How will this continue in the future? It will be important to understand this trend so that marketing can prepare suitable collateral and sales teams can be shaped appropriately.

These are just two examples of how the environment we work in has changed. As we plan the 2021 Construction Media Index we would welcome your input into the questions we should be asking. Help us shape the 2021 research by completing our online survey. In exchange for your views, we will offer a 5% discount when the reports are published later this year.