July 9, 2015

How would you summarise the latest Budget?

By Paul Laughlin

iStock photoUK Budget Day is an opportunity for a wide range of media outlets and financial firms to practice their communication skills. Rabbits can be pulled out of hats, treats given away, burdens imposed and lives changed; all in 2 hours.

Despite the level of advance leaking these days, none of these businesses knows the content for sure until the Chancellor stands up & starts speaking. However, some changes announced in the budget can take force immediately or from the next day, whilst others can be impact businesses/personal finances so much they need as much time as possible to prepare.

For all these reasons the pressure is on to understand, to interpret  implications, to distill & to communicate as quickly as possible.

#Budget2015, pressure is on to #understand, #interpret, #distill & #communicate ASAP Click To Tweet

These are equivalent challenges to those faced by customer insight teams when urgent business issues arise. So, I thought it might be insightful to see some of the examples of how different businesses have addressed this budget challenge. How have they communicated so many facts fast & in an easily digestible format? Here are some of the examples that impressed me today:

The BBC leads the way with a useful bullet point summary delivered live & quickly refined, in image-led sections, condensing a lot of information onto one summary webpage. However, I would like to see more use of graphs to set numbers in context & show impact on range of typical UK household scenarios.

The Telegraph did better, in my view, with more use of infographics & graphs to summarise key figures and present them in context. Like the BBC, they also make use of emboldening some text within sentence-length bullet points to make it quicker to spot keywords. It does help with scanning. However, this still leaves reads with quite a lot of scrolling to read all this summary and a lot of bullet points in addition to graphs.

Although simplistic in format, I liked the video summary approach used by the Independent. A good reminder to consider use of annotated short videos as an effective means of communication if readers may be using smartphones. However, this has selected less information to summarise and still provided no context or trends, so not the equivalent summarisation challenge.

Amongst other firms (consultancies, adviser firms etc) publishing their summaries, I’ll make mention of two that impressed me (most did not as they seemed to go for drowning their readers in long lists of information). The first is the summary by Deloitte who made effective use of Twitter both during and after, as well as visual navigation to a wealth of information on their site.

The second is a much smaller firm. This infographic from Moore Stephens caught my eye. Not all the information included in the others but provides a nicely accessible point of access to the bullet points below.

I hope that was of interest. Please do share any budget summaries you’ve seen and why you think they’ve addressed the data visualisation & information curtain challenge in a way that works. Oh and all the best with the impact!