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Is your brand only skin deep?

We often think of corporate brand as a company’s public face — be it a logo, a product or an ad — something a person can touch or see. In reality, a brand is the sum of the entire organization — its values, operations, policies, decisions, operating principles, work environments and more. It’s about behaviors, not messages.

In our latest Common Sense for the C-Suite report, we explore the significance and complexity of branding in the age of influence. Give it a read, and let us know what you think.

 

Earlier this year, our CEO, Jim Weiss, paved the way for the future of W2O Group with the concept of “InteGREATness”. In theory, the Committee of Millennials (COM) has had this in practice since its first meeting in 2013. With over 60 interns, associates and managers across the New York, Boston, Chicago and Minneapolis offices, COM offers a space for millennials at W2O Group to educate, collaborate and innovate as we continue to develop our careers. This past month, we challenged the committee to think about how we are already “InteGREATing,” and what more we can be doing to truly “InteGREAT.”InteGREAT

What we’re already doing…

  • Engage-alytics: Engage-alytics is the crossover and collaboration between our analytics and engagement divisions. Using the data mining, insights and influencers identified by the analytics team, the engagement team is able to better serve the client. Additionally, the engagement team is able to consult about end results and best practices with influencers, which better informs the original analytics output.

Where we can improve…

  • It’s never too early or too late to “InteGREAT”: Whether you are kicking off 2017 planning or in the middle of executing one of many 2016 tactics, it is never too early or too late to bring in an outside expert to lend a new point of view and to contribute to the overall strategy. Ultimately, we should look to involve a team with diverse expertise early to maximize the ideation, counsel and services that we can provide.

As we look towards the end of 2016 and the future of W2O Group, we are excited to see how we can continue to put “InteGREATness” into practice as millennials and company-wide.

SMART-Engagement

I’ve sat on a number of committees and boards over the years and been part of hundreds of companies as an employee and counselor.  In doing so, I always gauge the level of commitment and engagement among colleagues and members to determine if success is attainable.

One recurring truth in my experience is that even in highly engaged environments success or even progress against a set of goals is not guaranteed.  Now this would seem to go against everything we read and are told about engagement – that it’s essential to achieving organizational success.

However, engagement without direction, clarity, measures, consequence, and reward is basically a more pleasant situation.  It’s akin to the famous quote “the operation was a success but the patient died.”

So before you run out to improve engagement in your organization or on your local committee ask yourself:

  • What are we here to accomplish?
  • What does it look like to customers?
  • How are we measuring progress?
  • How will we recognize achievement?
  • How will we address failure?
  • What do people need to do individually and collectively to win?
  • What do people need to know every day to contribute?

Engagement continues to be the holy grail of organizational excellence – the subject of countless books, blogs, presentations and conferences. The truth is engagement alone achieves little.  It must be part of leadership’s formula for managing the business with communications serving as both catalyst and fuel.   As communicators the most important question to answer becomes “is engagement a cause or symptom of our performance?”

How you answer will most assuredly dictate the future – good or bad!

Anything less, engagement becomes a feel good destination with little hope for sustained results.

Gary

Recently, after being briefed on the company’s internal communications strategy and plan for the year – the CEO of a global organization posed a compelling question: “Fast forward to December, tell me why all of this didn’t work.”

As we enter a new year, it’s always a positive and somewhat idealistic time. Strategies and plans come together with their requisite measures and synchronized business goals. For communications professionals, specifically those involved with organizational effectiveness, the challenge remains – how can we improve employee engagement.

Former General Electric CEO and leadership guru, Jack Welch, often describes employee engagement as the most important measurement for a CEO. “There are measurements you need to understand at a business to know if you’re on the right track, Welch once told a major business journal. First and foremost, is employee engagement.”

As you begin the year, ask yourself the following questions as a means to test your internal communications programming to ensure the results are met and possibly, exceeded.

What are you Solving for?

The most important question to answer is whether internal communications is directed at improving employee engagement. This can be done based on specific business goals – providing line of sight between people’s jobs and customer needs, marketplace expectations. Engagement includes but is not limited to leader rhetoric and commitment; manager involvement; feedback and discussion; and recognition.

Is it a Conversation-based model?

How are you planning to catalyze dialogue internally? Without dialogue, discussion, and debate, internal communications is nothing more than a cadence of information with no real intent or meaning. A key measure of this approach is to constantly discern what people are talking about inside, which leads to the next point.

In order to ignite discussion, are you provocative?

How is Data informing decisions?

Where do employees go to get specific information inside the company? Do they prefer video? Are they active on social channels? What is the volume and the key themes from feedback?

All of this is now available through technology and must be incorporated into your planning and decision-making. Data and insight provide precision allowing for course corrections during the year.

Is your plan Activity-based or Solution-based?

Step back and objectively size up your plan. Is it designed to solve the key objectives of the business. Or is it a series of activities? Do the elements connect and work together to create a better destination? Often this simple exercise is an eye-opener leading to a more strategic realignment.

Is the CEO involved ?

The most critical determinant in engagement, as Welch stated, is the CEO’s commitment. Engagement and effective communication starts at the top and is based on leadership’s view of the business, its prospects, challenges, opportunities, and competitive reality. Internal communications professionals must have access and influence in the C-Suite helping to direct the organization’s narrative and counsel the appropriate actions that link strategy to execution. When this takes place, companies achieve coherence and most importantly, clarity.

Are you Mobile?

With organizations increasingly featuring employees outside of their own offices and placed across the globe working across time zones, while more office stable or manufacturing oriented employees operate across boundaries, companies are building their IT systems including communications platform outside their walls. Mobile applications allowing everything from benefits updates, to stock price alerts, to CEO briefings, and up-to-date competitive news, are becoming more visible.

Delving into these questions at this point to avoid end of year mea culpas can prove to be a wise investment of time and talent.

Is the Organization Getting Smarter?

Ultimately, employee engagement and organizational intelligence are inextricably linked. At the heart of engagement lies information (content). Is it contextual? Is it relevant? Does it challenge assumptions? Does it encourage experimentation that leads to innovation? Does it help people to make the argument themselves?

One notable organization, upon naming a new CEO, went from focusing on what they knew to what they didn’t. Translation: Internal communications became more provocative and meaningful touching on competitive moves and products, societal shifts, internal issues such as quality and productivity, etc. It’s focus is on expanding people’s knowledge and building confidence in the future. Results thus far indicate a more robust interest in important company initiatives and a more active discourse among employees on topics that just a few months ago were never broached. A recent CEO blog to employees reflects this new found approach. In it the CEO asked a very profound question – “Who is our most dangerous competitor?” He explained that competition today comes in all shapes and sizes and is no longer confined to a company’s competitive set. After an incredible amount of employee posts, most offering key competitors as the answer, the CEO stated that Amazon was the most dangerous competitor because it keeps “changing the level of customer expectations.” Amazon, which is not in this company’s competitive set provides a different way to think about the business and is a proxy for a new business strategy about to be introduced.

This is particularly important to capture employee attention with so many distractions. It is also crucial for long-term business success especially as companies continually redesign business models in a social and digital context to be more fluid, agile, and omni-channel.

As business becomes more seamless and friction free the very nature of the workforce will be revolutionized. Analytics will provide more specific information on employee engagement making it easier to discern performance and thus merit compensation. This type of transparency will result in higher levels of organizational acuity that couple with new technology will force a more sophisticated approach to internal communications.

Now Ask Yourself …

The role of internal communications as we’ve reiterated is to improve engagement. To do that, it needs to move the workforce to become future smart or capable of recognizing and navigating the myriad changes taking place around them. It’s about balancing the marketplace with the organization and the individual. And then balancing the individual with improving the lives of others as well be it colleagues, customers, communities, etc.

Given all of that, how will your own performance be evaluated at the end of the year?

It’s December 2016…

Spending time now to address the inherent discrepancies or gaps in your internal communications strategy and plan will go a long way to ensuring you get the results you seek and the company demands.

It really comes down to seeing ahead … just as this CEO did!

When searching for the “perfect” job applicant, organizations are beginning to find more often than not that they are willing to overlook a lack of specific qualifications in favor of ensuring the applicant is a good fit for the existing culture.

More and more employers want to know who they are hiring and how they will relate and work with other employees. As many organizations have already figured out, recruiting shouldn’t only be focused on an applicant’s GPA and past experience anymore. Rather a focus on the individual and what their interests may be outside of the workplace.

Employment site Glassdoor has collected hundreds of thousands of questions asked by hiring managers, and the following four ranked among 2015’s 50 Most Common Interview Questions, though they have little to do with work:

  1. What are your hobbies?
  2. What’s your favorite website?
  3. What was the last book you’ve read for fun?
  4. What makes you uncomfortable?

Why does this matter?culture fit and experience

According to a research paper conducted in 2004 by Development Dimensions International (DDI), an international talent management company, 78% of respondents believed that organizations and hiring managers do not assess for culture fit because they do not know how to do this.

Oh how the times have changed. Employers now seem to have a much better understanding of the importance of colleagues being able to relate to one another to accomplish any given task. In recent years there has been a shift to hiring for culture and focusing on training and developing employees who may be new to the workforce, such as millennials.

With the workplace changing and more millennials climbing the corporate ladder, more research is being conducted by experts like Dan Schawbel, author of Me: 2.0, who identified specific needs of millennials in search of positions. According to Schawbel, “millennials want a culture that’s less hierarchical, more flexible, and more understanding of difference, because millennials are the most diverse generation.”

As culture continues to become increasingly important and effecting employee attraction and retention, making sure you pick the right people is crucial. You now not only need to make sure a candidate has the background criteria you are seeking, but can also thrive in your existing culture. As culture begins to play a bigger role within organizations keep these five questions in mind to help you identify a candidate who will help keep your business moving forward.

Read the person behind the paper.

  1. What unique talent does this applicant add to the existing team?
  2. What similarities do they have with existing team members?
    a. Did they attend the same school?
    b. Do they have similar interest outside of the office (traveling, sports, etc.)?
  3. Does the applicant’s personality match that of the existing culture?
  4. How will the company leverage the applicant’s expertise to help grow the current staff’s skill set?
  5. What will this applicant add to the team aside from their experience?

 

Data and its accompanying insights are having a profound business impact on the value and efficacy of both marketing and corporate communications.

The real benefit is that analytics provide a roadmap for more precise communications – i.e., identifying influencers, including media as part of a larger ecosystem connecting emotion with purchase behavior. Or, moving internal communications from a Broadcast model to a Conversation model, one in which employees can actually make the argument themselves through a more engaged environment, based on dialogue, discussion and debate. Or, predicting new areas to pursue or issues to avoid.

collaboration

Digging deeper, the real impact of analytics is how it’s reshaping the relationship between the CEO and the Chief Communications and Marketing Officers (CCMOs). No longer considered running a function, CCMOs are now pivoting to become more of a systems integrator.  That is, they are expected to turn information into new thinking to better enable behaviors that both prepare and sustain leaders, managers, employees, customers and the marketplace for what’s next.

The following reflects how we at W2O Group are learning and leading the transformation of today’s CCMO.

Essentially, we are experiencing seven distinct areas where CCMOs are incorporating data and insights to forge new, strategic relationships with CEOs.  In doing so, they are challenging historical norms, eliminating useless tactical interpretations of effectiveness, and employing unique analytical models to clearly see the organization.

1) Customer Acquisition

“How can I find the next generation of customers?” is a common question we hear from CEOs.

New models designed to identify where potential customers are migrating and how they are behaving can better pinpoint communications and marketing expenditures, helping to cultivate relationships and dimensionalize brands, products and services.

The key is to target analytics models across channels and networks of influence, encompassing the consumer’s decision journey.  Finding, understanding, engaging, and sharing with customers and influencers online, helps uncover nuances, behaviors, interests, and bias concerning brands, companies, products, services and policies. Recognizing the power of advocacy in purchase behavior and where it has the most influence not only better targets programming but more importantly, helps capture the next generation of potential customers before they even recognize the need or want.

2) Productivity and Engagement

“How can I ensure my employees’ get it?”

Further, deploying your workforce as your most potent sales force through a programmed Advocacy effort is a true differentiator in a crowded, distracted marketplace.

However, to engage employees today requires a granular understanding of how people are finding, assimilating and sharing information about the business.  Analytics provide a forensic study of employee traits in this regard. Employee View is proprietary analytics tool that captures workforce archetypes, in order to better engage employees in the business.

One CCMO from a global enterprise is meeting monthly with his CEO and reviewing a report on employee behaviors related to the company’s key imperatives.  The report identifies employee retention of important information, sentiment of executive messaging as well as tone, cadence and context.

3) Relevance 

“Are we relevant today?”

In our social/digital world, Relevance is the new Reputation.

But how can an organization measure Relevance?  In multiple ways actually.

Every industry possesses its own criteria for comprehending relevance and as such we have designed analytics models to discern what’s important and where a brand or company is viewed on that continuum.  Relevance means organizations are connecting on multiple levels with key stakeholders in areas that are meaningful to them, but also correlate to the business’ core purpose.

4) White Space

“What’s Next?”

CEOs, as we know, are often measured by current results and future prospects.

Our Landscape Analysis/Conversation Blueprint uncovers the anatomy inherent in predictive behavior in a particular category and regarding a specific product or brand.  Knowing where the game is going to be played positions CCMOs as partners in strategy formulation.  White space may result in a brand extension, new product launch schematic, a messaging platform that clarifies a product benefit, a migration of interests, etc.  Discovering such a place keeps the business agile and leaders awake to the possibilities.

5) Strategy Alignment

“How can we get people to hear us again?” Strategy and priority overload afflict every company.  Breaking through is critical if companies are to succeed in a distracted, highly volatile market.  But how?

The Narrative: More often than not, C-Suite leaders are not seeing the business in a clear, coherent manner.  Such a misaligned picture at the top of an organization causes incredible dysfunction at the middle and lower levels resulting in poor decisions and, even worse, paralysis.

Analytics and the insights derived from the right data can lead to an accurate portrayal or narrative on the business from an outside in, and an inside out, perspective.  The narrative aligns messaging and conditions behavior to accurately reflect the business’ current state so as to better navigate the right path.

Refreshing that perspective regularly drives the CEO’s agenda in a more disciplined and pragmatic fashion.

6) Efficiency (The PESO Model)

“Why are we spending our money in all the wrong places?”

In today’s communications and marketing mix, Paid, Owned, Shared, and Earned Media must work in concert with the customer journey. Earned media consists of media relations, influencer marketing and advocacy. Owned media is viewed as any type of media for which you have complete control.  In contrast, Shared media consists of content relationships, in which control is shared with your audience.  Paid media is an accelerator of earned, shared and owned media that deserves larger reach, and as a way to test the market in low-cost ways. Organizing, strategizing, and operating in a cohesive fashion across all communications and marketing platforms optimizes investment.  Orchestrating PESO via analytics achieves precision in both effectiveness and efficiency. The fuel for this journey is analytics and insights.

7) Risk Mitigation

“Are we able to handle a potential crisis situation?”

Nothing keeps a CEO up at night more than a business crisis. Avoiding and/or deftly managing a situation that can potentially damage an organization’s ability to operate is essential to a CEOs fiduciary responsibility if not his/her tenure.

Inception™ is a proprietary software and analytics platform designed to simulate issues and their trajectory toward crisis in an environment where the organization can learn, test its collective agility, judgement, collaboration, and response in a social/digital reality. The result is a more confident, integrated and progressive issues management protocol that maintains relevance and protects reputation.

A New Relationship Emerges

For today’s progressive communications and marketing leaders, analytics and insights are forging a pathway to greater influence and impact on strategy and direction.  This is leading to more sophisticated discussions on business outcomes versus tactical outputs.

For Chief Communications and Marketing Officers, the time is here to fundamentally reshape the relationship with your CEO and other C-Suite leaders through a more data-oriented, disciplined approach to both the marketplace and the workplace, systematically forging insights that lead to new choices and strategies designed to achieve organizational excellence.

Gone are the traditional outputs, structures, and anecdotal rationales that underpinned the function, but are now obsolete.

So, as a CCMO what are you talking to your CEO about?

 

Gary F. Grates is a principal at W2O Group and a recognized expert in strategic communications including change management, organizational communications, labor relations, corporate positioning, and M&A assimilation.

Reddit has more than 36 million user accounts and receives millions of daily interactions. It may not be mainstream enough for our parents however Reddit’s specialty is creating small communities through conversation threads across a variety of topics.

We are beginning to see celebrities, authors and public figures leverage Reddit’s platform with its “Ask Me Anything” thread, aka AMA. It is a useful tool for building transparency with a brand, and an opportunity to ask well, anything.

AMAs must be approached with caution, since although you don’t have to answer all the questions posed to you, those thought starters will still be put out for all to see on the web. Reddit users (or Redditors), as explained by our very own W2O Digital Prophet Allie Lee, are not easily deterred, and are determined. “When doing an AMA, or using Reddit in general, assume your audience is tech savvy, intuitive, has common sense and is knowledgeable about your industry/topic/subject. They can track your IP address, they can spot when a media representative is talking instead of the person the AMA is focused on, and they will delve into your past if they suspect something.”

As you can imagine, this can lead to some pretty tricky situations for someone in the public eye (anonymous AMAs can be held as well, usually on a very specific topic or experience.) Allie recommends going through the “Reddiquette” before any interaction on the site

They key to a good AMA is to let the Reddit users guide the conversation. They want a genuine, interesting, fun interaction, and forcing a brand’s agenda won’t get the desired response. Let’s look at some examples of how AMAs have been used to help (or hurt) some personal brands.

The Good: Using A Reddit AMA To Build Your Personal Brand

Sir Patrick Stewart participated in an AMA, boosting both his personal and professional brands, and at the same time promoting his new show Blunt Talk. The key here is that promotion of the show was not the main goal, but rather a fringe benefit. An AMA can be incredible self-brand builders, and he knew how to cater to his audience. Instead of redirecting every question back towards Blunt Talk, he answered questions like “How did it feel to carry the Olympic Torch?” and “Do you ever ride the subway in NYC?”

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The subtle way of working in Blunt Talk showed up very minimally, in his introductory post:

 post 2

The Ugly: Woody Harrelson AMA Debacle

Trying to navigate an AMA when you are promoting something, as many public figures will do, can go one of two ways. 1) You have fun with it and answers questions like “Which would you rather fight, a horse sized duck or a duck sized horse?,” or you can be impersonal and too focused on your own project, like Woody Harrelson was with Rampart back in 2012. Harrelson brought every answer back to the movie, i.e. not the purpose of an AMA. For example, one person brought up a story of Woody allegedly crashing a prom. The response?

post 3

Reddit users were very quick to doll out backlash and reiterate the purpose of an AMA. The lesson: be prepared to be honest and expect the unexpected. Reddit can be notoriously harsh and in this case, incited a media storm outside of just the Reddit community. They even started a meme to mock the interaction.

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So what can we learn from these? Influencers use AMAs to connect with their audience, from Elon Musk, Bill Gates, to President Obama.

Have you ever participated in an AMA? Share your engagements and ideas below! Get upvoting people!

The case for a new professional competence based on well-known functional expertise

Business strategy is designed based on multiple variables. Core competencies, competitive advantages, marketplace dynamics, threats, consumer traits, talent, etc., all form the internal decision apparatus necessary to plot strategy. In the end, the true mark of an effective business strategy is, of course, performance.

That’s why in today’s volatile environment most businesses operating in a strategy that they led with may find it’s not the most potent or even viable.

Much like a football coach who architects a detailed game plan against an opponent only to discover that after the first quarter it’s not working, business leaders now must be more agile and adept at recalibrating strategy to reflect the realities of the marketplace.

In football there is always halftime to pivot to a new strategy but in business no such time out exists. In business, organizations must be clear on intent and capable of harnessing employee behavior quickly to a different set of priorities once it’s evident change is necessary.Tyson Knock Out

“Everyone has a strategy until they get punched in the face.” – Mike Tyson

Companies in all sectors are discovering the validity of this premise shifting initial strategy as soon as it’s known the original game plan is proving to be ineffective. Look no further than JC Penney, Ford, Xerox, Dell, and McDonald’s to reflect the point.

Juxtapose that with companies who maintain a business strategy regardless of its effectiveness wasting resources and de-valuing its purpose until it’s too late. Think Kodak, Burger King, AB, Sears.

But how do leaders orchestrate such a shift while the business is moving at such a fast pace? Again, unlike football, there is no half-time to recalibrate and come back on the field with a new game plan after the original one was battle tested and you were able to witness how the competition reacted. It is here that strategic communications based on today’s progressive model is critically important to achieving the level of organizational agility to migrate to a different place on the board.

Pivoting to a new strategy…a new profession emerges

Following is a partial overview of the latest thinking and practices on how progressive organizations (and marketers, communicators) are “game planning” for success by rethinking the traditional definitions of PR, Communications, and Marketing.

It’s worth asking yourself which of these your company is – and isn’t – doing.

Create Context Through A Narrative: When things are uncertain, it’s important to at least provide a framework for how people should follow the situation. In this case, the need for a corporate narrative, or story, detailing the current state and evolving as conditions change allows people to latch onto something tangible. The narrative is the foundational story for not only all communications but management actions as well. It provides managers a baseline on which to build their priorities, budgets, resource plans, and communications.

Initiate New Conversations – The Power of Influence: Starting with a complete understanding of how your brand, company, product, etc., is being perceived and then determining who is generating the commentary, adopting an Influence model is now table stakes for business of any size. Communications must drive discussion, dialogue and debate to be effective and relevant. At its most basic, communications is about conversation. Communicators can facilitate new conversations inside and outside the company as a means of conditioning new attitudes and behaviors.

Get Closer with Managers: Other than their immediate peers, mid-level managers enjoy the most credibility with employees – even more than C-suite leaders. Invest time making sure your managers are engaged in the current business reality and the management thinking that’s driving decision-making. Equip them with information and tools while holding them accountable for their use in employee interactions.

They have to be convinced first or else all bets are off!

CEO: An increased role for managers aside, it’s been proven through our experience that the more senior-most leadership calibrates communications as they lead and manage the business the greater the chance that people will connect in the right ways.

One executive recently described his senior leadership’s efforts in this regard as “drive-by” communications. His point: Leaders are scheduled for town halls, diagonal slice meetings with select employees, and plant visits with managers and employees that have the appearance of communicating but are sometimes nothing more than choreographed “events” that neither reflect how the business is being managed nor provide answers to how employees need to be working. CEOs were often removed from customers except for well-choreographed events and media interviews. Social media operating in a digital context allows senior leaders to be more actively engaged with all stakeholders on a daily basis bridging gaps in understanding and interest.

Always tricky, but the closer communications are aligned with CEO actions and business decisions versus designed around them, the clearer things become and the greater the chance for trust to be sustained.

Empathy is Appreciated: So often, the rational aspects of communicating during a turbulent time overwhelm the internal discourse that employees don’t pay attention and ultimately, lose faith. Talk with people and share the emotional side of what they are feeling through your management behavior, communications and messaging.

Challenge the Status Quo; Challenge Your Instincts: Are you actually getting through? How do you know? Is your strategy just a bunch of tactics without a central premise and is your communications part of a broader management plan to engage people, influence behavior, and impact performance? Your instincts tell you to just communicate to everyone the direction and benefit of the enterprise…your instincts could be wrong as credibility may be frayed preventing your narrative from getting through. Thus, a completely different strategy and communications approach is needed.

Insight that Influences Decision-Making: In this environment, communications functions are focusing more than ever on aggregating information from multiple sources both within and outside of their control – turning this information into nuggets of insights, trends or red flags and sharing that information with senior management and other functions, thus impacting decision-making at a level and pace not seen before. What is the blog chatter concerning your situation? What’s the predominant characterization being perpetuated? This is essential in developing a new business strategy quickly and effectively.

Organize Before You Strategize: Take an opportunity to rethink what skills are critical for the organization today, and where those skills are best deployed. Also, ask yourself if the company physically brings together all areas of communications, along with select management, on a weekly or even daily basis to continually reassess the situation at hand and how to gain more control over the story the company is telling. The tendency in difficult times is to just do something without comprehending the purpose, effect, or result.

Rather, first organize the various elements surrounding the situation in a manner that can be visualized and internalized by all parties in order to then strategize about what needs to be learned and accomplished.

Employees As Your Next Product: Employee advocacy is a major differentiation to achieving relevance and gaining advantage from a strategic standpoint. Your workforce is the best set of knowledgeable and credible spokespeople you possess. Train them, outfit them, listen to them, and engage them in the business and with their own networks to amplify your narrative and stories and gain interest in a distracted world.

An active form of business strategy formulation and execution driven by a new skill set

The pace and seemingly always-transforming nature of business today is making it increasingly challenging for leaders to gain success by employing a new business strategy and not determining its effectiveness in a timely fashion.

Rather, business strategy is a means to engage and test the marketplace in order to shift course, assimilate competitive and consumer moves, and come back quickly and confidently with a new approach and fresh thinking better suited for sustained performance.

As a result, a new form of public relations, communications, and marketing is emerging – based on data, analysis, and insight – that embraces a more open, transparent, seamless, interactive, and engaging approach to stakeholder relationships and strategy formulation.

The impact is nothing short of a revolution in business strategy thinking and practice.

In a professional sense it means discarding your title and even your role based traditional descriptions.

What matters most now isn’t what you do but how you Solve!

Tata, debatably one of India’s best known brand’s, boasts over 300K employees in over 60 countries. Pradipta Bagchi, VP and Global Head of Corporate Communications for Tata Consultancy Services, knows that internal communications through its digital channels is the most crucial way to maintain satisfied and connected employees.

In a discussion at the PreCommerce Summit with Lord Chadlington, Pradipta talked about his insights on the challenges and benefits of running internal communications on such a grand scale. His guiding principle is to always keep employees first, staying ahead of the news that affects employees and maintaining a rapid response to any issues.  Essentially, treating your internal communications just as you would your external communications.

For example, with India being a very hot country and many of Tata’s employees riding motorcycles to work, an employee discussion started last year about whether employees could be allowed to wear half sleeved shirts rather than the full sleeved shirts. This digital discussion on an appropriate internal platform led to a change in HR policy, allowing employees to wear short sleeved shirts.

This example shows how important digital is for employee communication and connection. Tata has given its employees a platform to discuss internal topics openly, offering a suite of apps that allows them to do their timesheets and expenses remotely, and offering a learning platform to continue their digital education, putting digital at the heart of the company’s global employee engagement strategy.

Lastly, Lord Chadlington asked Pradipta about how Tata mobilizes its employees as brand ambassadors. Instead of using the push method, Pradipta explained how Tata uses social media and its various networks to engage employees about things they are passionate about, such as fitness and family. When Tata reached its important milestone of having over 100K women employees last year, it asked for women working at Tata to post their selfies online and created a social media collage celebrating this milestone in it’s internal networks.

These examples and insights showcase how Tata is leveraging its digital tools to connect its vast network of passionate employees.