When was the last you finetuned the Communications FM Radio?

Have you wondered what the communications function sounded or looked like? To me, this function is akin to the role played by a FM radio.

  • It is a function that sends as well as receives information
  • This FM channel can be used to communicate with a large number of people at once
  • It is used to communicate with people who are far away, could be employees sitting anywhere, as well as external stakeholders like media and government
  • It is a channel for dissemination of news and other business updates

Just like the way we need to sometimes finetune our radio signals, it is important we finetune our communications FM radio.

Here is what communicators can finetune:

#Finetuning the in-house intelligence unit

Keep your ears to the ground to understand business priorities. This is one function that needs to work with minimal resistance and provide the best signal quality. That can happen only when communicators are finetuned with businesses and aligned on the priorities.

#Finetuning the objectives

Once you have reassessed the business priorities, it is time to finetune the communications objectives. Is something not working? Is there signal (business or external environmental factors) interference? This could be the time to assess and reset the objectives.

#Finetuning the early warning system

By proactively monitoring and evaluating the signals coming from the external environment, the communications function acts as the early warning system to the business. For instance, by monitoring the noise out there through traditional and digital media channels, communicators can map trends, identify potential flare up issues that can become possible future reputational risks, and also gain insights into competitor activities.

#Finetuning stakeholder engagement

This is a critical role of the communications function. The stakeholder universe has widened to not just include employees and media but also government, business experts, key opinion leaders, academia, activists, customers and even students. Do we understand the expectations of our stakeholders? Are we in touch with them on a regular basis? Can we gauge if our stakeholder is satisfied with our product/brand? The more attention communicators pay to nurturing and strengthening stakeholder engagement, the earlier they can spot early warning signs of crises. Remember, a stakeholder issue is a business issue and that can quickly become the communicators ASK.

#Finetuning internal communication channels

Employees are the best brand ambassadors for any organization. While employee engagement is primarily driven by HR, communications function plays a vital role in collaborating with HR to ensure the messaging is consistent across all business groups. The internal communication channels of intranet, newsletters, internal mobile apps, etc., are owned by the communications team. They can ensure these channels deliver timely and appropriate content in an engaging manner. Again, while employee attraction and retention are HR driven activities, communications team can collaborate to effectively put in place a compelling narrative that engages employees and strengthens their bond with the company.

#Finetuning the external story

We now live in a BANI (Brittle, Anxious, Nonlinear, Incomprehensible) world wherein the old values and rules no longer apply. Communicators will need to be agile and resilient in dealing with multiple moving pieces and shape and reshape the narrative and external messaging on a continuing basis.

#Finetuning the outcome and impact

Gone are those days wherein a communications function would measure the impact by counting number of positive stories published and number of newspapers that carried their press releases. Businesses are pushing communications function to have clear defined ROIs linked with campaigns so that revenues can be attributed to those messages. An effective communications team builds in the KPIs and impact measurements in the campaign right from the beginning.

To be relevant and effective, it is essential that the communications function and its team members regularly review and analyse their performance against each of the above parameters and finetune them according to changing environment.

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

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

Be the first to comment on "When was the last you finetuned the Communications FM Radio?"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.