Innovation and Communication

The recently held Innovation First Communication Conclave, organised by Reputation Today and First Partners presented a lot of insights and differing intakes by participants in terms of what should be defined as innovation in communication and how important is the role of innovation in communication.

The topic, with its relevance, left me pondering over my own take on the subject. To me, Innovation is Communication. Without the power of communication, any innovation that improves our lives and livelihoods would not proceed beyond the idea. Communication can tell the difference between success and failure when it comes to innovation.

Communication is essential in the digital age as the pace of change accelerates, technology has become more complex and entire industries face the threat of  being reduced massively overnight with unforeseen business models. The need of the hour is to develop collaborative strategies with partners and clients around the world in order to survive.

While communicating with media, or pushing a brand/spokesperson/information, the communicators certainly use traditional methods but, over and above this, they must innovate different ways for a better and more interesting engagement. Any idea becomes great when it is developed, shared, and implemented appropriately.

If an organisation is trying to become more innovative, communications should play a key role in its entire effort from start to finish. It must work with employee communications, human resources and business heads to encourage the importance of employee innovation to the company’s strategic direction. It is critical to compile key messages shared by executives at company meetings and events, in the form of videos, articles and presentations.

An innovation communication plan describes how an organisation communicates throughout the entire innovation process. The plan must include:

a. Objectives for communication

b. Target audience – as every stakeholder needs different information

c. Mode of communication – e-mail, personal meeting, or messages

d. Frequency of communication- how often do stakeholders need communication

The traditional tools of public relations lend themselves to communicating innovations. For the proper diffusion of innovations it is essential to make them popular both among the relevant community and within broader parts of society. People in charge of communication in organisations or, independent communicators, play a decisive role in communicating innovations. They are the ones who critically examine inside their organisation’s innovations.  Corporate communication experts are the first ones to shape the image of innovations. Media and Public Relations are partners in several ways when communicating.

In present times, the notion of innovation is virtually used everywhere. Typically, marketing resources of an organisation tend to use the label “innovative” for products or services which are not really new. Communicators must focus on clients, employees, and media as the three most important stakeholders when covering innovations.

Communicating innovative products, services, technologies, or business processes is one of the major tasks of any communication department. Just like any other topic, it is crucial to arrange the object of communication as concrete, comprehensible, and as oriented towards the stakeholders as possible. At the same time Innovation Communication poses particular challenges which in turn require special routines. It is because of this, Innovation Communication needs to work much more than any other kind of communication, with illustrations and examples, stories, personalisation, and the concrete benefits for the stakeholders. Innovations have to be prepared in such a way that they can be experienced and felt. Communicators must weave a gripping and convincing story around an innovation. It is easier to sell stories. Creating such stories is also an innovation in its own.

Ritu Bararia
Ritu is a Corporate Communications leader, Mentor, Author, Public Relations Evangelist, Thought leader, Advisor. She has nearly two decades of working experience having spearheaded Communications, PR and Corporate Affairs with corporate brands such as Kingfisher Airlines, The Park Hotels, Bird Group.

She quit her corporate career in the beginning of 2018 to try her hand at various related things within communications space. She turned into a published author in 2020 with her maiden book ‘Little Joys of Communication’.

Currently Ritu is Senior Director at SCoRe and, Executive Director Communicators Guild – India (CGI).

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