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Horizon Scanning: Minimum Risk, Maximum Opportunity

By: Michael Bennett, Managing Director, ESG

It is important for any business to have an understanding of the landscape of its industry and to consider any external impacts. Whether it’s an opportunity or a threat, any impact could influence the direction of your business’ strategy. This is where a useful task like horizon scanning comes into play, to ensure you’re aware of anything that may arise.

Keeping up-to-date with activities not only within your industry but also outside of it, will help you prepare and determine your strategy accordingly. It could be a change in government policy or simply a tweet: whichever form it comes in, our guide can help you with horizon scanning.

At The Jargon Group we understand that each business is different and there isn’t one right way to study the landscape for all industries. However there are common factors that can help you and your organisation, from understanding your audience to reacting to changes.

What to look for...

There is a constant need to focus on the issues that are important to your business and knowing what these are, is key to understanding what to look out for. This will help you define the topics that are important and whether an activity has a negative or positive impact for your organisation.

Having a clear view of the landscape will help you to form a plan for your business, but keeping a regular eye on activities will help you react to any unexpected changes and help you form a strategy.

Influencers and your audience...


By having an understanding of your business’s main focus, you will be able to get an idea of who your influencers are; through researching trade media, newspapers and social media, you will be able to find these prominent figures.

One factor not to ignore when considering what is important for your business is knowing your audience, understanding their behaviour and what they’re searching for. Knowing who else, apart from you, is an influencer for them and observing those influencers’ activities, will determine your future plan.

Higher power changes...

Changes in government policies can have a significant effect on any business, however there are times when some organisations lose out on the opportunity to react to these changes because they’ve kept themselves in the dark.

To keep up to date with government changes or comments, signing up to services such as DODS’PoliticsHome will provide you with crucial knowledge and insight in the form of daily emails to ensure you’re kept in the loop. Through the handy They Work For You website, you can also set up email alerts from MPs and subscribe to alerts when keywords or debates you’ve selected are being discussed.

Which tools to use...

Whichever issue or topics are most important for your business, the range of tools available for you to use tend to be the same for all industries.

Social media helps to get a view of what is being discussed within your network; whether there has been a new announcement or a growing issue, it is more than likely being discussed on a social media channel. Hootsuite is a useful platform to perform social listening and check whether there are any topics relevant to your organisation being talked about. XPro, formerly Tweetdeck, is also great to keep a track of multiple topics and hashtags in one screen.

Sign up to Google Trends, subscribe to alerts and if possible RSS feeds, so you can be regularly updated as and when there are new announcements.

The best way to react...

Once you’ve recognised an issue that you and your organisation will need to respond to, it’s always a good idea to start from the source. For example, if a journalist raised the issue, it’s worth contacting them to find out what their next steps are, or if there is a way for you to work together and form a strategy, taking control from the outset.

To help you with your plan you can have a look at BuzzSumo to see what kind of content is out there and is relevant to the issue. Answer the Public collates all the questions users are asking Google: both tools will help determine the direction of your strategy and how you can set yourself apart from your competitors.

Depending on the scale of the issue it’s always useful to seek professional guidance and find the best possible resolution. Our experts at The Jargon Group are on hand to provide advice in any situation.


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