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Change.

The word itself evokes feelings of being improved, uncomfortable, fearful, weary, and, in motion.   From an organizational sense, change management is now a 30-year-old practice of shaking up a business or entity to refocus its mission, improve its operations, streamline its delivery systems, accelerate innovation, and better adhere to a marketplace moving at incredible speed.  It’s supposed to result in something that is good for all its stakeholders – customers, suppliers, communities, and the like.  But more often than not, Change management doesn’t deliver.

Worse.  Even when a Change effort achieves part of its remit, it is not accomplishing the ultimate demand of the business – keeping it ahead of the curve.  Ready to take on the next competitive challenge.  Or customer expectation.  Or technological shift.  Or talent demand. In many cases, organizations are left limping to the future.  One recent example is a global enterprise that after several change initiatives now finds itself in a place where its very existence is in question.

In a time when one’s ability to not only assimilate but accelerate forward is critical to sustained success, then Change must be “changed.”

So, let’s first examine why Change gets stuck and then identify the signs to avoid it going forward.  To actually begin a process to shift a business, an entire infrastructure must be put in place.  The adage, “organize before you strategize,” is indicative of a major change effort.  Starting with a Project Management Office (PMO) overseeing the entire program right down to various task teams spread out to capture multiple areas of the enterprise. This architecture is surrounded by a vast array of data, information, deadlines, and communications to support it.  In the end, it’s as if another organism attaches itself to the business ignoring what it does or why it exists. Again, the reason is to make move the business literally on the fly, so to speak, as people do their daily work.  It’s this very rigor, though, that leaves Change behind the curve.

In this scenario, what actually happens is:

  1. Change often keeps people in their respective areas to capture better ways to execute something but limits future thinking– Instead of experiencing diverse perspectives and ways of doing things, employees only see what they do in their area, robbing the business of an ability to pivot or address new situations.
  2. Change doesn’t allow true data to be shared regardless of the all charts and projections – Despite all the data typically pulled together by management consultants to fuel the work streams and functional assessments, the important data – competition, customers, and employees – is often missing and with it the ability to think through key decisions based on predictive elements. In one large change initiative, employees were only provided data reflecting their functional area thus negating an ability to see the whole picture and limiting real ideation.
  3. Change doesn’t test people; it merely involves them – Placing people in teams to jointly work on reports and PowerPoints does not test judgement and decision-making ability, two key attributes to be analyzed and strengthened. As such, the company is not using Change to become more confident about addressing the future.
  4. Change doesn’t communicate what’s important; only what’s expedient – Time and again, communications can guide how employees view the future, if constructed properly: provocative, market and customer-oriented, authentic, interesting. Instead, Change efforts find communications just restating the logistical aspects of the effort.

Based on the above, we would recommend the following questions be addressed for your current Change initiative as a means to prevent failure in today’s unpredictable world:

  1. Who needs us to improve and why? – Note the difference. By asking “Who,” it forces us to determine exactly the forces behind the change and the need to explore further the reasons.
  2. Why do we do certain things? – Again, instead of asking “what do you do,” this calls for a more exploratory or self-examination of the type of work being conducted and the reason.
  3. What is happening around us? – From a communications standpoint, this is the most critical piece of information that can ensure Change is set-up to move people to the future as it provides context.
  4. Can we simulate what’s next? – Building in scenarios to Change allows people to experience and experiment with new protocols and the projection of the future is essential to keeping the business nimble.

As an employee, it is also important to lay out the scenario the Change effort is projecting by asking yourself:

  • Will I still be in this job?
  • What skills do I need to acquire?  What skills no longer matter?
  • Where can I acquire new skills?
  • What don’t I know that’s critical to pursuing my career at this company?
  • How am I sharing my ideas?
  • Who do I know outside of my function?
  • Who is the most important influence for you in making the shift ?

Now more than ever, organizations and leaders must work hard to keep their business future-oriented with regard to being thoughtful, agile, adaptive, resilient, and smart.  Initiating Change programs to break through the technology and expectation gates to lean into the future vs. getting run over by it are both smart and necessary to bridge to the future— if they themselves don’t become an unintended barrier to long-term benefit.

A tight, strategic communications approach that encompasses key questions at the outset or during a Change effort can significantly alter or reinforce the company’s ability to rethink the entire experience.

Just as we view Change to be something that envelopes the whole organization, so too, must we recognize that only when all the elements – communications, engagement, system, behaviors, metrics – are in sync can there be an effective route to continuous improvement and excellence.

Gary

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Forget messaging, channels, commentary, speeches, events, campaigns, PowerPoints, and the like; think customer journey, leadership focus, decision making, investments, strategy, positioning, retention, recruitment, trust, relevance.

Having spent my career in corporate communications for companies globally in a variety of industries and segments, the one truth about communications— specifically inside organizations— is that it’s a proxy for how the business is led and managed. In a digital reality, internal communications have taken on an even more critical role, becoming a reflection of the management model, the relevance of the business, as well as the strategic intent of the enterprise.

Internal communications can identify both potential issues and broken systems such as pursuing the right imperatives and priorities, to uncovering innovation and potential new markets and opportunities. The digital realm we all now find ourselves in has shifted the balance of power to customers and employees, forever upending how organizations are led, managed, and operated. For organizational (internal) communications, the migration to strategic from tactical has been nothing less than profound.  Often relegated to parties and newsletters, posters, and internal portals, communications inside companies must now not just reflect the company’s mindset, efficacy, purpose, judgement, voice but its interdependencies and vulnerabilities. It can be a major component in achieving success.

In fact, the five key elements of organizational success today, which can be summed up below, are in fact both driven or hindered by ineffective internal communications:

  1. Customer (Trust) – gaining loyalty, positive discourse, and repeat purchase from customers begins inside with smart, productive employees
  2. Innovation/Technology – keeping ahead of market and customer trends, driven by employee ingenuity, passion, and collaboration
  3. Cost – constantly balancing costs and investments is a reflection of individual and collective actions throughout the enterprise
  4. Talent – attracting and developing people is essentially the most powerful competitive advantage in business and is centered on how engaged, informed, and motivated the workforce is managed and communicated with
  5. Agility – speed and flexibility rule the business landscape

Unfortunately, communications is often viewed through a tactical lens with time wasted chasing symptoms of unhealthy environments rather than propelling the business forward, informing and influencing management planning and behaviors.  It is deployed by leaders as a siren for espousing promotional content about the current and future state of company.

In a digital and social reality, this is a deadly mistake.

First, employees don’t believe the rhetoric any more.  Second, the expectation is that they will be sought after to provide the solutions to the business.

When employees have information on the business along with context they can participate in creating value.  They can operate more strategically and operationally in a nimble and agile manner.  They can initiate dialogue, discussion, and debate with colleagues and managers.

The can go from being passive members of the organization to confident, aggressive partners.

So, what is it about internal communications that provides such magical power?

First, communications by nature is about people.  The relationships and interactions between and among people in different circumstances, scenarios, functions, and regions, which result in rich and diverse data and insight.  It can paint a picture around collaboration, engagement, and understanding.  It can shape perspectives and the promise offered to customers and external stakeholders.

At its best, organizational (internal) communications opens and cultivates a discussion (and even a debate) with everyone inside the business. At its worst, communications becomes a series of messages directed at people via multiple mechanisms, producing a contrived feeling of connectivity and relationship building.

Second, the ability to capture the business in a clear, comprehensive way, giving meaning to people inside and outside the business, is necessary given the information overload we all face. Further, in a time of flux both politically and socially, the ability to gauge risk around policies, programs, and decisions internally with a highly informed workforce is critical to organizational balance and health.  Finally, with everyone calling for authenticity and transparency, internal communications allows the business to see itself from the audience in.

Digital makes everyone more aware today due to 24/7 access to information.  But for organizations, internal communications make employees smarter due to context.

The values and imperatives associated with today’s organizational (internal) communications can be summed up in three ways:

  1. Expert in perspectives (worldview), mindset, behaviors, actions of the workforce using analytics, digital intelligence, and insights to form arguments and perspectives
  2. Expert in issues, policies, investments, strategy, operations, financials, and relationships to connect the dots in a manner that moves the business forward
  3. Expert in narrative and content formulation for various audiences through numerous platforms and among key leaders and managers

Internal communications in a digital age is a strategic management catalyst directed at:

  • Behaviors
  • Connections
  • Confidence
  • Collaboration
  • Relationships
  • Knowledge

It is a connective tissue for major corporate initiatives and employee engagement.

But it is not about employee engagement.

As an example, true employee engagement requires several elements to work in concert – Leadership, HR, Line Management, IT, and the employees themselves – to engender interest, involvement, discussion, and advocacy on behalf of the organization.  To that end, communications is the means to an end that without strategic intent can be a myopic activity that tends to favor activity over result.

The democratization of the workplace is an outgrowth of a digital world where information is ubiquitous and relevancy difficult to achieve.  Acting as an expert in how the organization behaves and operates based on data and insight, and shaping the nature of your story using digital platforms and face-to-face interaction, has elevated the practice of internal communications from the Christmas Party to the C-Suite.

The question is: where do you reside?

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It’s been nearly 30 years since the business world discovered a host of new programs and initiatives generated by consulting firms to rethink strategy, improve processes, deploy new systems and technologies, reduce costs, streamline functions and business units, recruit and retain talent, and solidify leadership practices.  During that time, the success rate – defined as the organization achieving the results set out by these various initiatives – is approximately 30%. Translation: Over 70% of these efforts fail.

Countless millions of dollars are invested each year on change management, yet the Return on Investment remains extremely low.  Ironically, adding to this dilemma is that a review of the communications approaches typically used to drive such programs internally reveal little has changed in the analysis, strategy, content, frequency, and structure.  This failure to improve and strengthen internal communications in support of change management initiatives is a key contributor to their mediocre results. In fact, it’s astounding to see the same mistakes being made year in and year out and no one – leaders, managers, communicators, consultants, employees – standing up to declare defeat.

The Digital Effect – It’s all about Dialogue and Debate

With business and society now ensconced in the digital age, such apathy regarding change communications can no longer be tolerated.  Employees are often operating with as much or more information on the company, industry, competition, and customer set as managers and leaders.  Opinions and discourse on change efforts are shared openly and sometimes discretely. Employees can reference outside sources as to the legitimacy of the initiative, check on past efforts, look up commentary on forums and blogs, and determine how media and analysts covering the organization characterize the situation.

The bottom-line: If people believe the information they are hearing and are involved from the outset, then the rate of success rises exponentially.

So, why in an age of open discourse and new technology, are internal communicators and leaders still following an outdated playbook regarding change management communications?

Here are a few reasons:

  • Communications is not integrated with the management model
  • Communications is based on a “sell” approach (what the organization wants to say) vs. a “discover” (the information employees want to know and discuss) approach
  • Consulting firms denigrate communications to a tactical necessity (PowerPoints, events, meetings, materials), severely limiting its value
  • Communications professionals rarely employ any type of analytics to understand the workforce relying instead on instinct
  • Communicators fail to ask relevant questions or to learn about the change effort in enough detail to challenge or offer better ideas for execution
  • Leadership fails to recognize and demand that Communications be seen as a strategic driver of the change effort

The “New” Playbook

The major lesson taken from over 30 years of change is this: employees want dialogue, discussion, and debate to understand, engage, and believe. The digital age is all about connectivity and conversation.  From a communications perspective, it’s about Discover vs. Sell.  Allowing people to get there themselves rather than selling them on the idea.

The example below describes just how different each method truly is:

The Six Questions to Ask at the Outset of a Change Effort… to Get Results

If you’re about to get involved in a major change initiative, you might consider getting answers to the following questions before doing anything:

  • What’s the current understanding of our business situation internally?
  • How does the workforce perceive the company today?
  • What communications content and methods are being used to engage and connect with employees?  Are they going to be effective going forward?
  • How much do I understand the change program itself and how am I connected to the PMO overseeing its implementation?
  • What do we ultimately need employees to know, feel, and do regarding the initiative?
  • How aligned am I with managers and leaders to drive this effort?

The pace of business is only going to get more intense, causing leaders to rethink everything from purpose to products to process to people.  Communicating and connecting with employees while engaging with them in meaningful and authentic ways throughout the change effort itself increases the chances for success. Employing new techniques, utilizing analytics, and developing new forms of content work together to expand thinking and give people the freedom to be – accept the shifting environment and choose the path forward.

Organizational communications has certainly come a long way…

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Relevance is the measure that any organization regardless of size, scope, and category can employ to truly understand and address the reality facing their audiences in a manner that provides mutual benefit. Ensuring our clients understand the power of relevance and that they’re accurately able to measure their relevance is something our firm values deeply.


Learn more about Mastering Corporate Relevance in a Distracted World during SXSW


I had the opportunity to chat with fellow colleagues Gary Grates and Rob Jekielek surrounding our recently announced W2O Group Relevance Model and Index. During our conversation we discussed our  new corporate intelligence framework, why this matters for every brand, and how this will allow our clients to build an unfair advantage. Take a listen below.

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How one question can lead to the wrong answer regarding workforce effectiveness

 For anyone involved in employee or internal communication hearing a senior leader ask this question often leads to frustration or even anger:

“How can we improve Internal Communication?”  This is typically followed with the request – “We need an Internal Communication plan!”

The fallacy in this thinking is that Internal Communication is perceived as an end vs. a means.  It’s not.  Employee Communication is a by-product of an organization’s management model.

As such, it begins with a thorough understanding of the current state and future aspiration of the business coupled with the CEO’s thinking and agenda.  Both of those ingredients are then processed with the culture and employee behaviors of the business to form the right approach, content, tonality, frequency, and cadence of information and interactivity to inform, educate, provoke, and connect people with the enterprise.  Building an internal communication plan without access to or a relationship with the decision-making body of the company is akin to driving to a never visited destination without a map.

Improving Internal Communication cannot be done in a vacuum.  Neither can a plan be developed without the proper inputs.  Unfortunately, there are still communicators who jump to this request and prepare a “plan” based on nothing more than tactics and channels, which ultimately mean nothing to accomplishing internal alignment, organizational confidence, and employee satisfaction.

Employee Communication is the difference between success and failure of any corporate change initiative, restructuring, M&A, new leader transition, major product innovation, organizational crisis, or business strategy execution.  The reason is that at its core employee communication is about how an institution interacts with itself.  How it respects itself.  How it remains relevant. The core tenets of employee communication are neither based on tactics nor channels.  They are based on how the company thinks, operates, decides, innovates, educates, rewards, shares, listens, and projects itself.

Employee Communication at the strategic level is a behavioral and consultative function.  For CEOs and businesses to thrive, providing a bold vision coupled with a realistic view of the current reality is critical to success as the balancing act organizations must maintain is challenged by people changing jobs faster than ever, people distracted vis-à-vis technology and the choice it provides, and shifting expectations of customers and shareholders.

When given the question “How can we improve Internal Communication?” the response should be with a question of our own – “How smart do you want our employees to be?” This is the answer needed to determine the best approach, content, context, and system to achieve the business health necessary for growth.

And for communicators responsible for this precious area, let me offer the following framework to up our game and eliminate wasted effort:

  • It’s Not About Engagement…It’s About Belief – All the talk today about employee engagement is a false promise.  The place we need to focus on is Belief.  Once people believe in a company’s efficacy, purpose, mission then they believe its story.  Engagement is an outcome of Belief.
  • Who is my Workforce? – Do we really know who makes up our workforce?
  • What is the Employee Worldview? – What is our employees’ perspective?  How do they view the world?   
  • What content and context is important to their success? –  Are there subjects that resonate more?  How deep do they need to go?  What doesn’t matter?  Which information is consistent with what people experience in day-to-day work?
  • What is the story being told? – Is it consistent with the company’s strategy?  External image?
  • How are we moving people forward? – Is there a point to our communications?  Does it move people ahead in lock-step with the business?

Now more than ever, increasing employee knowledge and confidence about the business and people’s future is essential to long term success.  The challenge is breaking through in a distracted, noisy and contradictory environment.

But how?  Based on our extensive work in this area over 20 years, there are five actions you can take to improve the employee experience:

  • Be Provocative – People want to be challenged intellectually. Content should reflect what employees are experiencing.  The more provocative the better chance you have in getting attention.
  • Be Real – No corporate speak.  No trite phrases.  Speaking from the heart produces belief.
  • Be Clear – What is it you are saying?  What do you want people to know, feel, do?
  • Be Connected – How plugged in are you to employee networks?
  • Be Smart – Do you know your workforce?  Are you using analytics to better grasp perspectives, relevance, interests, concerns?

Employee Communication is a litmus test for how organizations manage and lead.  Done well, people have a profound sense of purpose and mission and an ability to get things done. A confidence to question decisions and seek new information while sharing ideas and reaching out to colleagues.

And it all starts with asking the right question!

Gary

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There is a myriad of factors that come into play when companies are faced with an acquisition. Attention must be paid to every part of the business to ensure that the merging of each entity will successfully transition into the new business identity. I had the opportunity to talk to discuss this process with Marta Newhart, Global VP of Johnson Controls.

I first connected with Marta at the 8th National Summit on Strategic Communications earlier this year, where we discussed brand reputation on the What2Know podcast. After that conversation I knew I wanted to chat with her again to continue to learn from her expertise. During our most recent discussion, we unpacked the advantages of a successful merger including an increase in shareholder value, better productivity and gaining competitive advantage. Additionally, we explored possible pitfalls if a merger is unsuccessful including irreversible damage to company culture and morale.

Take a listen below.

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One of the more ironic shifts in terms of organizational behavior is the increasing use of new tools, techniques, and channels by CEOs looking to breakthrough inside their organizations and connect with employees. However, these “solutions” are often more complicated than they need to be. CEOs are more inclined to gain much needed employee buy-in, attention, and trust not via technology, but through tried-and-true efforts such as authenticity, openness, being provocative, and being consistent in discussing the business and the workforce in relevant ways.

This was reinforced at a McKinsey Forum earlier this year featuring more than 75 CEOs and Board chairs discussing the impact of technology on the CEO position.

While technology aids in frequency and connectivity by providing various platforms and channels to convey information, gather facts, and engage in discussion, CEOs must possess a clear agenda, a set of priorities, a narrative, and a purpose behind their actions in order to be heard and believed by their workforce.

I guess the moral of the story is that, in the end, content and context remain king.

Gary

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Did you know 87% of employees globally are not engaged according to a recent Gallup poll? Additionally only 14% of employees understand their employer’s business strategy. Clearly there is a disconnect between organizations and their employees that needs to be addressed.

Connecting with today’s workforce – one that is distracted, skeptical, curious, motivated, informed – is a key challenge for any organization and its leadership. It all begins with comprehending the pervasive impact of digital on organizational behavior as customers and employees take control of the relationship with brands and companies.

On November 15, W2O Group and a select group of industry leaders from automotive, healthcare, energy, financial services, consumer, consulting, manufacturing, and technology will spend a day learning, sharing, and exploring the latest trends, insights, and approaches in organizational communications/change.

The environment is designed to be open-ended with a series of discussions, learning moments, innovation “bytes”, and fresh analysis facilitated by attendees themselves, allowing participants to shape the outcome they want.

In addition, W2O will unveil fresh research on employee behaviors in a digital world focusing on preferences for channels, content, timing, and origin.

Among the questions to be addressed by this group of seasoned communicators include:

  • How would you describe your workforce?
  • What are their concerns? Dreams? Ideas? 
  • What is their worldview in today’s digital era?
  • What is your company’s strategic intent?
  • How would you characterize your value in driving your company’s future by creating an engaged, confident workforce capable to deliver on the company’s goals?
  • How are you measuring progress?

Great organizations are able to inform and inspire their people encouraging discussion, dialogue, and debate to enhance understanding and drive individual and enterprise purpose.

Bringing people together who live and breathe organizational communications and effectiveness to explore these topics in detail can illuminate insights on behavior and attitude in today’s complex business environment.

Gary

For more information on the Summit please contact Ally Masi at amasi@w2ogroup.com

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Creating Value and Relevance in a Time of New Relationships and Possibilities

As a function, Corporate Communications has always played a vital role in influencing and maintaining organizational health – reputation, culture, employee engagement, strategy deployment, business narrative, market entry, leadership alignment, product and mission efficacy and of course, trust.  Under a decades-old construct designed to deliver stakeholder insights, media relations (i.e., company mentions), product promotion, crisis mitigation, product campaigns, practitioners were, for the most part, measured by the quantity of their work.

Communications was aimed at the masses.  This all made sense in an analog world that kept activities and audiences in silos allowing communicators to manage and measure their efforts in linear, anecdotal, and myopic ways.

Of course, the digital and social reality that has enveloped us poses a new set of opportunities and challenges as well as a new operating and structural model for Corporate Communications. With it, are a mix of different skills and capabilities, new systems and processes, a higher order of expectations, and a suite of progressive tools designed to accomplish one goal:

RELEVANCE.

Relevance is Corporate Communications’ center of gravity.

Being relevant is the new reputation in a digital age.  Customers have no time to figure out who and what you are.  There are too many choices.  Too much noise.  You must grab their interest quickly and keep it consistently.  Brands must be “on trend” based on their respective mission and engage stakeholders in an on-going relationship and dialogue that respects each other as partners.

In a digital world, data is key and insight is essential.

Data breaks down the traditional walls between Communications and Marketing, recognizing that the customer is truly in charge.  No one cares which group reports to which group or what you call it.

Arguments for a past age.  Answers to questions no one cares about.  Certainly not CEOs or customers.

Further, there are myriad reports and white papers urging corporate communicators and corporate communications functions to focus on integration, collaboration, adopting new skills, incorporating analysis and measurement, and forging new partnerships inside and outside the organization.  Well-intentioned and solid advice for sure.  But they overlook the key essentials in designing a new model that ensures corporate communications in both a functional and systemic sense creates lasting value for the enterprise.

As organizations jockey for relevance today, Corporate Communications leaders would do well to follow these five rules in creating value:

1. Digital Means the Customer and Employee Possess the Power. Period.

Adopting a digital mindset requires you accept that digital is neither a channel nor a component of marketing.  Digital is a way of life.  It means a new relationship and respect with customers, employees, and key stakeholders who now hold the power and control over your brand and organization.  Companies do not own their brands anymore.  They are stewards and advocates of their brands and products/services being both responsive and proactive in their interactions with stakeholders.

In a similar fashion, influence has transformed coverage – knowing how opinion is formed in a digital environment vs. traditional media coverage and reporting has upended how, when and where brands convey their narrative and messages – causing disruption in one of the core activities for Corporate Communications.

Inside companies, employees have the means and ability to participate and challenge leadership in everything from strategy to investments, personnel decisions to product development and everything in between.   This balances and/or possibly shifts the origination of policy and purpose to the workforce re-orienting the discussion from broadcast to conversation and changing the management dynamic in new and profound ways.

2. PR/Communications vs. Marketing: “Tomato vs. Tomatoe”

 Can we stop arguing over which is more important?  (Or where each should report?)

It’s the wrong question.

The question is actually this:

How does the company view customer/employee/stakeholder communications?  As a Marketing activity or a PR/Comms activity?

In the Digital Age, the customer and other key stakeholders control the relationship.  The company or brand is an advocate that establishes and reinforces the efficacy of the product service or brand.

Given that, Marketing is actually becoming a PR/Comms activity vs. a selling proposition.

But here’s the catch.  Due to the transformative nature of Digital both Marketing and PR/Comms are morphing together – skills, analysis, programming, advocacy, influence, channels, content, etc.

The challenge is semantics.  When we say “Marketing” or “PR/Comms” people default to legacy definitions.

Remember, there are no silos in a digital world.

3. Data Sets You Free… Insight Keeps You Honest!

 For all the talk about data and analytics, the challenge for corporate communications is two-fold:  First, recognizing what to analyze; and Second, translating the findings to actionable insights.

Data without insight is just data.

Incorporating analytics into communications is game changer on many levels.  It raises our work to a more scientific level introducing data into our work and allowing us to see clearly what’s happening.  But, it still not an intuitive or natural activity.  And, data is not a plug and play operation.  Rather, data, analysis, and insight must be the catalyst for a new organization design for Corporate Communications.

One that is defined by an organizing principle where activity is based on the customer or stakeholder experience and programming is more intuitive than planned. The goal is to engender new customer relationships based on mutual understanding and benefit and sustainable principles to foster trust and engagement.

A function with equal parts analytics, insight formation, and creative thinking.

4. Relevance is Defined by the Marketplace

Data and analysis provides a direct line of sight of sight to the marketplace.  Digital leverages the capabilities of technology and media to ensure customer relevance.  In that regard, relevance is defined or expressed by customers, employees, and other key stakeholders

Corporate Communications as a function in this environment does not create relevance and convey its characteristics as it once did.  Rather, Corporate Communications listens and extracts relevance from customers, employees, etc., and captures its meaning and nuance in every touchpoint to improve overall customer experience and journey.

5. Storytelling is About the Plot 

Communicators and marketers have been trained to communicate the brand and organization in a clinical, structured manner.  For PR/Communications specifically, this model was based on journalistic training and mores.  This approach is no longer effective.

To capture attention, generate interest, and ignite passion, communicators and marketers must convey their purpose and efficacy through stories.  Stories that are genuine, passionate, real, and personal.

Stories that place customers in the starring role.  Stories that people relate to. Stories that capture values.

And, to top it off, customers want to create and share their own content about their experience with products and brands.  Their stories are often the ones that break-through, so creating content in Corporate Communications is actually secondary today.  Finding and curating customer content is a shift from being message-centric to being customer-sensitive.

But without a plot there is no story.  This is what communicators and marketers miss.  The plot is all about the “Why?” When your stories capture the “Why?” your customers and employees connect on their terms.

In the end, the new Corporate Communications function is really about a new:

MINDSET

New skills and expectations emanate from this shift in thinking.  Ensuring the organization is relevant starts with accepting the true meaning of the digital age.  The customer and key stakeholders control the dynamic moving power from the company and the brand to the marketplace and the workplace.

The real benefit though is that technology in the form of data intelligence and analytics provides communicators with the analysis and insight necessary to navigate this new world. With this information communicators can truly comprehend customer and employee behaviors and intent recalibrating efforts to be more in sync and precise.

Bottom line:  Corporate Communications Must Exhibit a New Value Proposition

Read more about W2O Group’s approach to Function Optimization for Corporate Communications in our report: Are You Built for the Future… Or Solving Yesterday’s Reality?

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