From Transactional to Transformational Communication
COVID-19 may be remembered as the most challenging event in our lifetimes. In the wake of the pandemic, attitudes and behaviors have been forever changed, and organizations have been forced to respond. The need to respond, however, won’t end when COVID-19 fades away.
As we emerge from the pandemic in the months ahead, how will the global enterprise respond? How will the competitive landscape be altered? Will C-Suite leaders value the contributions their communications teams have made to advance the corporate brand and mobilize disparate teams working a 24-7 tightrope in the work-from-home environment? What will be required to come out in front, on the road ahead?
We're on the cusp of a global reset. Everything is being reset, requiring us to find new strengths in the challenges we see and feel. We seek higher productivity and greater commitment while battling a growing complacency and the tedium that result from WFH. The need for reinventing jobs, re-skilling employee training and creating virtual development programs for our best and brightest is now superheated. We worry that the health and relevance of our corporate cultures are threatened by WFH. Our minds grow numb weighing options for advancing the well-being of our people and our brands as the pandemic drifts onward.
Employee burnout has reached its highest level in two years. Strong leaders must recognize the vastly different realities their employees are facing. They must bring greater clarity to a world clouded by despair, doubt and incivility while encouraging a deeper commitment to the leadership skills needed to navigate the unforeseen: adaptability, agility authenticity, compassion, confidence, empathy, inclusivity, persistence and resilience.
When worlds collide, events beyond a leader's control will always affect the corporate enterprise. The Chief Communications Officer with a global consumer packaged goods company recently told me, "Those organizations that have remained mired in a crisis communications mode during COVID-19 without pivoting to new opportunities will quickly fall behind the competition.”
There will be winners and losers. What will separate the winners from all others?
In leading a major study, I spoke with 30 CCOs, CMOs, heads of major agencies, educators and public relations students about the dramatic changes we’re seeing in marketing services. These conversation led to the e-book, The Road to Convergence, I authored on the new convergent communication model for Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga.
In our in-depth conversations with global leaders, we’ve confirmed a tectonic shift that is underway in marketing and communications – bringing unprecedented disruption while crystallizing the trends that are shaping our future. We refer to these trends as “The Seven Truths” and they include:
Average is officially dead
The speed of disruption is unprecedented
Corporate and agency models for communications services are broken
The space between creative firms and consultancies has converged
Accountability is critical to our credibility, success
Data is at the core of everything we do
Convergence is the new ROI
The boundaries between traditional marketing and communications are disappearing. Many global companies have undergone radical shifts in their business portfolios through mergers, acquisitions and spinoffs. Or perhaps they’ve entered more complex markets, requiring new corporate positioning for reputation management. Senior leaders realize they need a cohesive, disciplined approach for marketing and communications to reach stakeholders effectively through the explosion of media channels.
Across the spectrum of firms working in the communications advisory space, leaders have told us there is a real opportunity for convergence — skillfully blending the disciplines of advertising, marketing, public relations and all the various subsets to achieve needed outcomes. CEOs are mandating it. The return on integration (ROI) is higher because real-time content and messages can be created in a consistent voice across all channels of communication. Resources and budgets can be better leveraged on more efficient programs and tactics. And organizations can create more original content and drive brand journalism.
Great organizations today are seeking advisory firms with strategic counselors who they trust to deliver real value. They're seeking firms that collaborate, play well and work seamlessly with others. Firms that are nimble and fast-moving to meet ever-changing needs. Firms whose expertise and capabilities match the problems they need solved. Firms that have counselors who value behavioral science and emotional intelligence and who understand how culture, politics, business and society are interwoven and play out differently in every corner of the world. Above all, they’re seeking firms whose culture, values and beliefs align well with theirs — or challenge the status quo inhibiting growth.