The world is upside down because of Covid-19 and organisations have faced multiple unprecedented challenges in terms of communication. Post lockdown, the communication by brands had to be strategised and reoriented accordingly to make it relevant for their audience. Leadership and learning are indispensable and the situation demands business experts to unlearn and relearn to evolve in the current scenario.
An initiative by AdFactors PR in partnership with Reputation Today, The Communicator’s Assembly Point-8 was held on 29th August, focusing on ‘Communication by Unicorns’ in the Post-Covid era. Unicorns are startups with a valuation of over $1 billion. The panelists were- Amrit Anand, Senior Manager & Lead-PR, Paytm Payments Bank; Meghna Bangalore, Communications Lead, Udaan; Prasidha Menon, Global Head of Communications, Oyo; Sunil Param, Senior Manager of Communications, Pine Labs.
The world of startups is fascinating, fast changing and dynamic but fundamentals of communication remains the same irrespective of the sector, said Arpit Garg, Vice President, AdFactors PR, who was the moderator. In discussion with these unicorns of the community, the focus was on what goes in their work & their unique practices.
Difference in the communication toolkit
The basics of communication has not changed but the frequency of communication has changed. We are communicating a lot more and have moved to digital mode of communication, said Amrit. Businesses are adapting to changes and hence the communication toolkit is evolving. This is the best time to become better communicators and adapt to digital technologies including the leaders who interact with employees or external bodies. Audience are open to accept and understand that brands may not have all the answers.
Meghna further added that government might have relaxed rules but the working on communication is still required when it comes to brands restoring confidence and provide assurance and safety to their stakeholders. Messages crafted has to be constantly reinvented and reimagined in such an agile market. Communication tool has definitely become strong. It is important to engage the audience by empathy and show real stories.
Altering the elevator pitch
Altering the narrative and conveying the message more about tools and technology that were aiding these essential service providers who braved these odds and kept India running was the need of the hour, shared Sunil. It is important to make sure such announcements are travelled across the country.
Prasidha further added, brands need to rethink about how they want to bring innovations on their communication. The narrative should be more about empathy, being relevant, and honest with our stakeholders.
Evolution of communicators & communications
Brands might make tough decisions and that has to be communicated to their employees. Being empathetic and giving the bigger picture will help them to understand the complexity of the situation. Business leaders, community experts are rallying around the communicators to get their communications strategy in place. Communicators will have to put their structure policy and messaging in right perspective. The requirements and expectations of the consumers have changed drastically and communicators who can evolve will survive, explained Amrit.
Influence in B2B
Meghna stated that frontline workers, housekeeping staffs are our new celebrities and influencers and just like any sector, B2B has influencers which are both internal and external stakeholders like their associates, partners, advocates, employees and customers. To drive influence, one has to be authentic, transparent, data driven with a well-defined purpose. In a startup, one needs to constantly understand the evolving mindset of the stakeholders. Basic fundamentals will restore the self-reliance and trust for any company including startups. A right narrative mixed with right media channels at the right time is very important in the current cycle. Communicators should write about things that consumers would want to read because the consumption of news has moved slightly which focus on positive outcomes, some ideas or solutions.
Selection of media
Two things that have become really important are media beyond a traditional media platform and self-publishing channels. Tailor made communications for each set of audience is important to reach the right audience. Mass media and traditional media can be also used later. Consumers are anxious and doubtful and the more you try to communicate with them in various forms that were earlier not important like video content, testimonials from other credible voices on social media platforms. Evolution of communication has changed from more traditional media channels to these channels.
Engaging in audience’s conversations and effective strategies
Sunil stated, it is very important for brands to leave sitting on the fence attitude. Consumers want to be familiar with woke brands that cares about social and environmental issues. Brands that connect and talk about these issues openly will reflect well and improve their image in front of partners and customers. Reputation is the key and how brands safeguard and build upon is in their hand.
Prasidha further added, it is usually expected by brands to respond to audience and therefore they tend to lose opportunities in opportunistic ways. There has to be a clear understanding on and walk the talk by making the changes to move the readers. As communication leaders, we need to be the voice of reason. Amrit explained as far as millennials of these small towns and villages are concerned, identifying the trend is important and the communication should be as per their regional language. Connecting with them through online portals and what they think about the social causes is vital.
Valuable inputs for market leaders
Amrit: Trust plays an important role when it comes to crisis. Be honest and never be afraid to show vulnerability and this will help you to build more loyalty and lead more effectively.
Meghna: Engage, experience and learn from the experience have done. Study these learnings and keep repeating the process.
Sunil: Golden phase amid this global crisis for communicators. Honest and accurate communication with timely deliverables will be important.
Prasidha: Do not let your brand or communication strategy get ahead of yourself. Communicators should focus on their learnings and grow from their mistakes.
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