Investment playbook of the future for corporate communications leaders

After two years of continued efforts to navigate the businesses amid pandemic impact, the focus of corporate India is now firmly on investing in building a stronger corporate identity. Corporate communications, over the years, have transcended beyond its borderline or exterior nature to become an all-important part of a corporate existence, working relentlessly to generate value for all the key stakeholders. Elements like brand and leadership communication, employee communication, reputation management, etc. which were perceived to be generating intangible benefits in the past have now become potent tools to make a positive and sustainable impact in the process of shaping the identity and image of a corporate.

The aggressive digitisation and emergence of social media and new media have further added to the agility, dynamism, multifaceted nature and insights-driven approach of corporate communications functionalities. As the role has become more result-driven and there is increasing demand for delivering measurable value and strengthening stakeholder relationships, corporate communications specialists now need to align their activities with the changed business priorities, strategic decision-making and emerging profit-triggers. 

Corporate and brand reputation have become inseparable and the convergence between the two has made communications intersecting with marketing. The scenario makes it imperative for a corporate communication leader to make certain strategic investment decisions so that delivery outperforms the benchmark responsibilities and corporate narrative remains consistent. Let’s us look at the investment playbook that CC professionals should keep an eye on.

 Develop new-age competencies: Strengthening corporate positioning to break the clutter has emerged as one of the overarching themes of the present-day corporate communication narrative. The best way to achieve that is to invest in developing skill sets in big data and analytics. While analytics help in developing engaging content and designing effective content strategy, data offers useful market insights. In a fragmented audience pool, data analytics helps one to aim at a specific target audience. As investors are increasingly evaluating Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) compliance of a company to ascertain risks and growth, investing in building ESG communication capabilities has also become quite critical.

Drive value through owned media: Earned, owned and paid – each has its strengths in delivering on the communication goals and influencing the audience. However, in a highly digitised eco-system, owned media helps a company formulate a strong internal and external brand narrative. In traditional earned media, controlling the narrative of a brand-story is a perennial challenge. On the other hand, owned media such as websites, newsletters, blogs, etc. helps a company develop its individuality and build traction in its target segments. Therefore, in this age of attention-based economy, companies need to invest to build value in their owned media communications matrix to boost discoverability.

Build teams with cross-functional capabilities:  In an increasingly VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) world, on-boarding multi-disciplinary talents will help in creating a dynamic atmosphere of collaboration and knowledge sharing. Seamlessness in the corporate communication functionalities are critical as corporate they need to wear many hats – assuring shareholders with positive business updates, keeping employees motivated with appreciative messages, feeding the media with the company updates and in some cases nipping a potentially damaging story in the bud. 

Leverage influencer marketing: Influencers add the elements of persuasion, advocacy and impact to the process of taking a brand-story to a particular target audience. Influencer marketing has become an important part of the mainstream marketing ecosystem thanks to its ability to amplify the messaging of a brand convincingly. Therefore, corporate communications professionals need to build relationships with the influencers that are aligned with the core ethos of their brands and strategically invest in influencer marketing to drive higher engagement. 

In a creator economy, there are endless possibilities to engineer disruptions and build engagement in the media and communication landscape. The decision-makers in organisations need to take note of that and work closely with their corporate communication leaders in strengthening the value proposition of the communication framework. Corporate communication professionals must therefore shift and advance from a transactional approach to an advisory role of being a partner generating long term value.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Manali Pilankar
Manali Pilankar is the Vice President, Corporate Communications at JM Financial. She has been associated with the company for over 10 years and has been crafting impactful communication strategies for internal as well as external stakeholders of the company. With close to 15 years of overall experience in the domain of communications and PR, she has a proven track record in corporate reputation management, branding, online reputation management and leadership communication etc.

While consistently demonstrating incisive understanding of the corporate business goals, she has been working closely with the business teams to align communication objectives with business goals, thus translating communication strategies into effective outcomes. Prior to JM Financial, she has worked with Adfactors PR and managed mandates of some of the flagship businesses of Mahindra Group among others.

She is a member of Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WICCI) PR & Digital Marketing Council. The Council works with the objective to enable, equip and empower women within the communications business. Apart from being an avid traveller, she likes art and painting.

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