Sometimes I wonder whether the people who took part in events like the French Revolution were aware of the historical importance of each one of their small personal decisions. These thoughts come to me when I’m trying to assimilate and digest the rapid changes we are all now undergoing. Each one of us is a part of the technological revolution which has become a routine part of our lives. Every day we take on new practices, new interests, new knowledge. We do it in our daily work, facing new paradigms, and in our role as modern consumers.
For years the position of chief communications officer or CCO involved accompanying senior management in its decision-making, and building sturdy bridges between companies and their target audiences, both internal and external. Technology, new social channels, and people –customers or not—who are increasingly connected and socialized, are making new demands on companies, calling for new routines involving two-way, public, and open communication with all interest groups.
In this new context, chief communications officers ideally would belong to the management committee and contribute their views during the decision-making process. Most corporations can’t or shouldn’t think they can afford to make major decisions without considering the impact on all the stakeholders, and not merely those with an interest in the financial results.
Intermediaries between the company and its public are disappearing at a time when transparency is becoming increasingly valued. Investors, suppliers, customers, and employees all need believable and trustworthy connections as the sole channel that can generate brand value. And this is all happening here and now, with no chance of looking back and learning from past successes and failures.
Until recently companies have based their strategies almost exclusively on business logic, analysis, and achievement of results, all essential to earning the profits needed for their growth and sustainability. The corporate communication that has flowed between companies and society has been largely one-way, and only rarely were the roles reversed. The convergence of telephone and keyboard communications made everyone with a smartphone functionally ubiquitous. This new possibility of receiving and transmitting messages with equal ease, and also of making common cause on the Internet with millions of other people has made the links between companies and their customers and societies irreversibly bi-directional.
People take strong positions with respect to brands, both positive and negative. And in this new context, companies need to address the emotions and sentiments. This is where the coherence, veracity and honesty of the message attains a new value that impacts a company’s bottom line. The emotional and the rational must work together simultaneously and in coordination, joining effort, synergies, and costs.
Technology is a challenge that obliges us to confront new situations on a daily basis, to emerge from our comfort zone, and to find moments to think hard about what we are doing and to discuss problems and possible solutions with colleagues.
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