FoM18: 5 things you need to know
If corporate communications wants to survive the age of Big Data, it needs to forget about numbers and start creating brand awareness with both internal and external customers.
As integrated communications specialists, we need to understand the importance of ROI and embrace the skills of today’s top marketers by tracking data and correlating it to different tactics in all our campaigns. Moreover, we should work on our own measurement that mixes reach, engagement, sentiment and share of voice.
But we must still preserve our roots as brand awareness advocates, which is what makes us special. If not, we will be consumed by marketing. Personally, I don’t want to be another fad created by marketers, and I fear that, by focusing solely on numbers — clicks, leads generated and conversation rates — we may fall into the same trap faced by digital marketing pros who pay too much attention to increasing ROI through understanding Big Data.
Let’s not forget the human aspect of our work; it’s where we are coming from. We must keep in mind that, behind the numbers, there are consumers, people who create the products consumers buy, and people who work for the companies that produce these products. So it’s really important to understand that, in the end, what remains the ability to increase brand awareness and audience perception. And influencing that perception is what PR pros have done for years.
I remember working on a new business opportunity awhile back that focused around reinvigorating and improving corporate communication. Now, in the age of Big Data analytics, it can be difficult to recommend corporate activities because most clients prefer to invest in performance instead of meaningful thought leadership campaigns that could be difficult to measure.
Moreover, corporate communications no longer seems to be a relevant way for companies to stand up for principles and core values. Ironically, it’s perceived as a possible source of crisis because of potential negative outcomes. More than a decade of green washing might have made people suspicious toward any kind of CSR address. Add to this social media messages that backfire on a seemingly regular basis, and its understandable why brands are cautious with corporate communications.
With that in mind, I see three challenges for modern corporate communications:
Brand Awareness starts with people, not numbers
Corporate communications’ objective is not only protecting brand reputation, but also working on notoriety. Even if it has shifted from media relations to a broader brand content strategy, corporate value is still an important part of a brand identity.
Denying value will force a brand to lose what makes it unique, what differentiates it from competitors. In a world buzzing with fancy but meaningless words, everyone is talking the same way — Big Data, cloud, security, etc. I can’t tell you how many times I ask a client to tell me what makes them different from competitors without getting an honest answer.
So it’s still our job as integrated communications specialists to, above all, keep meaning over messages, which leads to the second challenge.
Be timely with your corporate communications
It’s important to create content that is aligned with what consumers see as timely and relevant. For example, environmental questions aren’t currently leading the news, even though they are still very important. It’s not that people don’t care anymore — many studies shows that people do care about the environment — but the economic downturn forced other issues to the forefront.
So corporate communications needs to find new ways to emerge from the continuous flow of communication by keeping a keen eye on current events that affect the consumers who trust brands.
A great corporate communications strategy takes effort
Building a corporate program is time consuming, and it won’t deliver immediate results like everyday communications campaigns do, which is another obstacle in a world moving faster than ever.
In the end, what’s most important is that a company’s employees and its loyal consumers and partners should endorse the brand. Successful companies are built behind a great personality that’s able to engage in honest conversation with their audiences. That ties back to what I said earlier about how human interaction and PR are interrelated, and that communications pros should establish their particular expertise to help avoid marketing excess.