What does “corporate communications” mean in 2015?
Today, the W2O Group Center for Social Commerce (which is a collaboration between the firm and S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University) released its first research report on lessons learned from corporate comms practices in the digital age.
The purpose of the center is to ensure that upcoming PR students are “exposed to the evolution of the communications industry” in the midst of our never-ending media transformation.
“Thriving and Coping in a Social and Digital Age” holds that — because of tech advances and related changes in the way we exchange information — the communicator’s job is shifting from “that of tradesman to that of strategist” and that successful PR executives now work more directly with CMOs and CEOs in shaping strategy.
The problem? If comms officers aren’t comfortable with such responsibilities, companies can and will find someone else to handle them: marketers, financial specialists and even…yes…attorneys.
Researchers conducted in-depth interviews with five leading corporations’ comms executives, and here are the six big takeaways:
1. Coverage is no longer as important as influence
As social proliferates, media outlets evolve or perish, and the way we read things changes, great coverage is no longer the ultimate goal of a campaign.
Reaching the right people at the right time in the right way (aka “influence”) is more important than scoring front-page editorial over time.
2. There’s no strategy without measurement
One participant writes, “The existence of digital and social analytics has changed how we as an organization approach strategy.”
Do you need to be up-to-date on all the latest data gadgets? Probably not. But if you can’t measure things confidently then the CMO might not let you keep that seat at his table.
3. Mister CMO, tear down this silo
Successful organizations no longer follow the traditional pyramid structure, and employees SHOULD be connected to everyone else in the organization in some way.
Of course, as a recent post mentioned, internal comms is often the toughest kind…
4. “Community” is the new “audience”
This one’s pretty simple: an audience is millions of people sitting at home in front of a TV, ready to change the channel at any given second.
Community, on the other hand, is a group that actively seeks out a certain experience, so its members will in most cases be far more receptive to expertly created and delivered messages.
5. Social media is no substitute for the real world
Social and digital overexposure will drive almost anyone crazy over time. The same applies to marketing strategies.
As one executive told researchers, social without real-life connections “will actually hinder engagement.” You can’t just get people to click “like” — you actually have to convince them to leave their well-worn recliners.
6. The definition of “storytelling” has changed
Not every story can be told in GIFs and emojis — but “storytelling” no longer necessarily means building a narrative with language as it did in the past.
“60 percent of people today identify as visual learners,” which means that you’ve already lost them by the third paragraph.
Interactive, multimedia…you get it. Now what’s our word count?
Demographics, media consumption habits, digital delivery systems…it’s all changing too quickly to stay ahead of every curve.
At the same time, every business and every communicator has to try or risk becoming obsolete before you can say “meerkat.”
Do you even know what a meerkat is?