In the words of former Presidential speechwriter James Humes, “The art of communication is the language of leadership.” If you reflect on it, this line holds so much meaning in every aspect of our lives. In fact, I think the importance of communication has grown manifold in recent years with the explosion of media and technology around us.
Being a communication professional, I am naturally a firm believer in the importance of this craft. But I often come across brand managers who are sceptical about its role and impact on their businesses. Interestingly, I met with a growing data company with offices around the globe and an employee strength of over 2,000 recently and was surprised to find that they did not have any external communication efforts in the past 20 years – since inception. A Google search about the brand will throw up virtually nothing about the brand, its products, or its lineage.
Their prompt answer to my perplexed reaction was that they did not feel the need for it as they were growing organically anyway, and also the fact that most of their customers are in the US and Europe.
While this made perfect sense, the fact of the matter was that the company could have easily grown much faster had they embraced communication. Today they were grappling with a dwindling talent force as potential employees were finding it hard to discover them. They were also finding it hard to transform from a services company to a product company, which was their long-term vision.
I personally started blogging and writing articles about 4-5 years ago. Recently an associate of mine sent back an article that I had drafted and published in a leading media house without mentioning that it was mine. He was simply referencing a point raised in it actually. After reviewing it, I failed to recognize that this was an article that I had originally published. Ignorantly, I went on to argue a point in the article when my associate – amused with my reaction – pointed out that this was my very own POV, albeit published four years ago.
The point here is that the sum total of all of one’s experiences determines the person you are at a point in time. If I were to write the same article today, I may have different views on some of the points. That is the ‘Right Here Right Now’ paradox.
Think about it! This is particularly relevant to brands and their journey. Imagine the loss that a brand incurs when it fails to capture and communicate its experiences and learnings in its journey. If it hasn’t been communicated at the right time, it loses its context and can never be leveraged again. Think of some of the trending topics currently such as AI, Machine Learning, IoT, etc. and the need to have a view about it ‘Right Here Right Now’ if you are in a related industry. These topics will probably become obsolete a few years from now and to be voicing it then will lose meaning.
Today Google is a default friend and philosopher for most netizens. Picture someone who is applying for a job and is into cutting-edge work in data sciences. But a company called X, which is doing just that, cannot be found simply because it does not communicate enough about its core competencies. This person may have Googled company X about its technology and its lineage but may have opted for another company with a more potent SEO and content strategy online. Google provides a huge platform for people to discover things and connect with others. Brands must take cognizance of this fact and have a suitable strategy to populate the internet with meaningful messaging.
With the profusion of online media and social media platforms, it has become imperative for brands to maintain an effective ‘digital footprint’. The digital footprint of a brand – loosely translated – is an online dossier of a brand and its traction. This is an extremely powerful tool as this helps build SEO which, in turn, helps the right people from around the world find you more easily.
Brands can look at building their ‘digital footprint’ in myriad ways, ranging from press coverage to blogs, third-party endorsements in the media, content strategy, social media visibility, etc. An effective communication strategy is paramount for all these initiatives to achieve success.
With the amount of data that is getting churned in today’s world, there is a threat that one’s voice can get drowned in information graveyards. The answer thence is simple – have a consistent programme to ensure that you are always around when needed. Brands these days are embracing the logic in “he who shouts loudest gets heard” when it comes to communication. A consistent and robust communication programme is the panacea for success when it comes to online visibility.
Enough said about the need to communicate. Next comes the importance of how and when to communicate. While it is definitely not rocket science, there is a degree of practicality and logic required when you plan a programme. Remember that what is once told cannot be taken back as it gets permanently implanted in oceans of data and information. Therefore, it is important to communicate with meaningful messages in a timely manner. Your external messaging approach needs to be engaging enough to interest your external audiences and compel them to take notice.
Brand building is a painstaking journey, factoring in a combination of elements that contribute to the success of a brand. An effective and well-thought-out external communication strategy is a must today in every company’s arsenal. With the explosion in online media and new-age media, it has become all the more important for a brand to maintain a regular flow of messages to the outside world. This not only helps position the company and its offerings but more so, demonstrates its core values as a transparent and engaging brand that means business.
Brands that do not wake up to this reality will realize one day that it is too late – and face the threat of being left behind!
Priyan DC is the CEO of Star Squared PR, a fast-growing boutique PR consultancy.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)