In a sort of post-Darwinian epoch, businesses today survive not because they are just the fittest of the lot but often because they are also the fastest! Being future oriented, for these outfits, adaptability based on goals matters more than directions provided through historical wisdom largely. This modern day imperative of realising that businesses cannot be made winning ones by just looking at the rear-view mirror has led to fast telescoping learning cycles and an insatiable appetite among business leaders for faster solutions to their challenges on the road to achieving their goals. Reputation, unfortunately, is not all. In light of this imperative, we at First Partners believe that Public Relations today has split across two different branches of the communication’s evolutionary tree.
The first fork, or Track 1, is the traditional reputation custodianship model one, which is important, of course, and is characterised by longer-term horizons extending to months and years and are largely ends in themselves. The Track 2 communications model, which the new-world PR avatar for evolved communicators, is predicated wholly on business outcomes, is shorter—weeks and months, usually—in execution timelines for stated objectives, and is marked by immediacy and speed. We strongly advocate this track and follow it as a practice. Communicators who understand how critical speed and survival is for businesses will be able to provide an enduring support to their principals, be it for marketing, for financial forays, for regulatory interventions or to attract talent, and in so doing always ensuring that they remain essential partners and a vital core function for any organisation.
The fact that the world around us is littered with shells of leviathans of old with reputations built over decades and decades of hard work who have been overnight Amazoned by agiler upstarts underscores the need for integral support by communicator partners who have the skills and the acumen to run head-to-head with their businesses and to sprint ahead of the change curve when needed. The times demand a composite marketer in a communicator. As a co-facilitator for effective and desired business outcomes, the communicator is no longer a publicist as was the bracketed nomenclature previously. A communicator is a businesses partner, an empowered problem solver. This is what, in fact, led to the founding of First Partners, to serve the unmet need of business leaders to solve their business problems through communications. No wonder then, most leaders accept that PR must become a core business function. With this, Business Outcome Communications will become mainstream and integral to businesses. Let us understand the key business outcomes that communication helps with:
Support in enhancing market share: communications is the handmaiden and vitaliser for marketing functions. It can acutely assist in enhancing and augmenting businesses’ market share through an extensive value-add such as in brand launches, market promos, awareness and activation campaigns, and in reach multiplier campaigns through digital and content marketing means. Not only this, communications can greatly augment marketing via close customer educational programs through tools such as reviews and out-takes which can be very effective in creating and enhancing market share. Communications can also help businesses in market entry through the deployment of tools such as surveys and customer insight interviews and also assist in such other activities such as brand extensions and product innovations.
Fortifying financial outcomes: Communicators play a critical role in supplementing business outcomes which are financially oriented. Due to stringent regulatory and market regulations, companies can only take recourse to PR-led communications to leverage and amplify their messages to the intended TA. Communications here can range from investor and analyst meets, pre- and post-IPO communications, matters related to capital markets such as fund raising and credit marshalling. Through well-designed and astutely executed communication programs, financial communications can help in meeting capital requirements at reduced costs for corporates and also in allaying investor doubts over perceived performance flaws.
Regulatory support: One of the most effective and incisive support underpinning that communications provides is for outcomes in public advocacy and regulatory intervention. Businesses which need outcomes in public affairs are assisted by communicators who possess relationships with organisations, businesses, and government entities which afford them the ability to strategically build strong and sustainable networks to move core issues forward. By raising genuine and often unrepresented aspects of a policy structure, outcome-oriented communications is an unobtrusive and legally tenable manner to put forth persuasive arguments in an effective manner. Long-term redressals, government intervention and oversight, and legislative directions, all can be accessed through communications.
Talent induction support: it is a given that not having the best people can mean all the difference between a company’s survival and obsolescence. Since the best talent wants to work for companies making a difference, communications can provide a big fillip to achieving this outcome. Talent attraction can be done through evangelising the vision and the wins of a business, profiling its leadership and their contributions, articulating the value of the innovation the company is focused on, creating a conversation about the company’s business niche and its work culture, and demonstrate the true attractiveness to future talent torn between offers. Reaching talented prospective employees is a tricky process and structured communications can help navigate this maze.
The need of the hour today is for those communicators who can identify with speed and relate to business outcomes on a moment to moment basis. For this upskilling is key. Talent and attitude which is tuned to outcomes and not to just building reputations will be, in the modern world, the best determinant of a communicator’s inseparability from his / her business organisation.
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