Corporate Communications in the Age of Constant Transformation

  • Categories:

    Public Relations

  • Date:

    December 14, 2021

Corporate Communications in the Age of Constant Transformation

Public Relations

The practice of corporate communications is in a constant state of transformation. Particularly in the age of COVID-19, external factors continue to both reshape the workplace and reorder how businesses reach their key audiences. As a result, companies of every size are realizing the critical role of corporate communications. In many cases, these companies are refining the channels they use to disseminate information to internal and external stakeholders.

Chief among the communications challenges wrought by a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic is that many associates and their customers are working remotely, a detachment that affects their consumption of information. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management predicts that the shift to remote work will be among the biggest business trends well into the future, impacting recruiting, workforce planning and how we communicate. According to SHRM, “people are looking for alternate ways to communicate.”

But technology was leading a communication transformation long before the pandemic reordered our personal and professional lives. Indeed, the changes have only accelerated since early 2020. Additionally, given that today’s hybrid workforce likely won’t return to offices at pre-2020 levels anytime soon, it is incumbent on companies to adapt their communications best practices to fit this changing landscape.

Here are three corporate communications channels that have evolved for tighter alignment with audiences.

1. Publications

Perhaps no corporate communications channel has evolved as much as print. The digital future may have arrived, but print media — the oldest type of mass media — has survived since 1440 due to its steadfast role as a credible source of information. Audiences are more connected than ever, and though the rise of digital platforms remains unabated, companies are realizing higher engagement when they deploy content across the right mix of channels to the people who are hungry for that content.

In today’s digital world, companies might be tempted to drop print publications, but in doing so, they may risk losing engagement from some audiences. Forbes reported in 2019 that one magazine became a digital-only publication, only to see its reader-engagement time drop by more than 72% within a year. As this example shows, the power of print looms large. This cautionary tale is also a reminder that publications with the best reader engagement are those that strike the right balance between their print and their digital offerings.

2. Social Media

According to the Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans use YouTube and Facebook, while Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok are especially popular among adults under 30. Facebook, in particular, remains one of the most widely used online platforms among U.S. adults.

The continued rise of social channels reinforces the power and ability of social media to shape and extend companies’ key messages. At its core, social media provides real-time interactions with key audiences, including customers, and the networks also provide a critical opportunity to craft and extend the voice of an organization. Furthermore, companies that successfully harness these platforms will be rewarded by consumers who feel aligned with the messaging they are consuming.

Social media offers companies a unique opportunity to engage directly with key audience members and forge stronger relationships with customers who will, in turn, feel aligned with the messaging they are consuming. In addition, the rise in niche-specific content across social platforms allows companies to not only reach but also resonate with these target audiences through value-driven messaging.

3. Internal Communications

There is perhaps no greater primary audience for companies than their own associates. From shareholders to executive teams and those on the frontlines, internal audiences are the first lines of defense for corporate communications practitioners. Clear, concise communications ensure that these stakeholders feel not only part of a bigger picture but also that their personal efforts align with their companies’ goals and objectives.

Keeping internal audiences connected today requires an integrated approach to communication. Gone are the days when a single email suffices for company updates, refined instead by approaches that have evolved with internal audiences in mind. For example, companies that engage with their associates through town hall–style meetings foster a deeper sense of connectivity between management and employees. Such meetings, where everyone comes together in person or via Zoom or Microsoft Teams, spark conversation and creativity and ensure tighter alignment among participants. Whether held monthly or quarterly, these meetings can be followed by top-line email or intranet updates to reinforce key messages.

COVID-19 may still be redefining how and where we work and refining how we communicate. But when viewed against the backdrop of a workplace in constant transformation, the pandemic is a clear reminder that effective communication is the hallmark of the strongest organizations. Indeed, it’s often a deciding factor in whether companies succeed in meeting their business objectives.

Corporate communications is more than simply communicating with target audiences. Successful communication strategies increase an organization’s visibility and fuel customer and employee engagement while also allowing businesses of every size to stay abreast of an evolving workplace — where the next disruption can’t always be predicted.

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