Following the example of air traffic control: How a broad view, expert coordination and rigorous processes hold the key to success

8 years ago

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Too many companies still communicate in an uncoordinated way because they have not invested in developing a solid strategy. By Valéria Café.



Everything is social. Articles, posts, tweets, comments. Likes and dislikes.
 
Companies want to participate in this trend but what we perceive, as consultants, is that it is important to first define where these companies want to get to when we talk about Reputation and Message Architecture.
 
Before communicating and engaging, companies and brands need to define what they want to communicate as a brand and as a company. This is so simple and, at the same time, so difficult. The majority of brands aren’t clear about it. Each leader has an image of what they should tell but if we ask them the company´s identity, each one will say a different message.
 
That is why it is so important to have the purpose and essence of the brand, as well as the mission and vision of the company clear and solid for all of the leadership team and employees.
 
What we do every day when we engage an online opinion leader or when we talk to a journalist about a good story from a company, is part of a huge strategy that needs to start with a deep analysis of the market, understanding the audience and, of course, include creativity to tell an interesting story based on the company´s culture.
 
The key to success
 
And this is the key to success: understand the company´s culture in order to be genuine at the message. Otherwise, people won´t believe in it.
 
The problem is that planning takes time and patience because reputation results don´t come fast . It takes some time to change people’s minds.
 
And time and patience is something companies don´t have anymore, due to the pressure for results exerted by shareholders. Now, planning needs to be done in a different way.
 
Companies should work on strong and quick projects that will bring a lot of buzz and maintain the buzz with paced messages. After some time, begin another strong project to bring back the buzz. This should be coordinated with messages, brand positioning; all at the same time.
 
A more complicated task
 
The work of PR has become more complicated because the same audience that is experiencing the brand at their houses, offices and stores is the same audience that is looking for the brand online, through Pinterest, Facebook, Google search, LinkedIn, Twitter....and a company should offer the same brand experience online and offline. They should double the effort. But, are the shareholders willing to pay for this doubled effort when faced by the global crisis situation we live in today? Ultimately, will the consumer pay for this investment? 
 
Maybe this is the reason why the majority of the companies and brands still implement communication projects in an uncoordinated manner with regard to communication strategy; mainly because many of these companies don´t even have the time to do the strategy.  They think up the tactics, but not the strategy.
 
In Brazil, we still have many differences among global versus national companies; small and medium companies versus big companies.
 
A survey developed by Aberje for Valor Econômico newspaper in March 2013 on "Cross cultural study of Leadership in Public Relation and Communication Management", shows that investment in PR and Corporate Communications in Brazil haves grown from USD2,8 billion per year in 2001 to USD 4,1billion per year in 2012. It is a huge change in 11 years, but still it is not enough in comparison with what the United States invests in PR and Corporate Communications.  And it is not even close to the investment in Marketing at these same companies.
 
Besides, the average annual investment into the PR discipline at the majority of the companies (62% of them) is less than 3 million dollars. Moreover, only half of PR and Communication Directors report directly to the local MD or CEO.
 
Much still to do
 
There is still a lot to be done in relation to the PR segment in Brazil. We can call on ever more talents, more skills, more tools; but we still need to prove every day that a good PR and Communication Plan and paced investment are key in order to maintain brand and corporate reputation. 
 
However, when a crisis comes, companies are ready to invest anything not to lose their credibility. 
 
But what these companies don’t understand is that they should invest in a communication strategy in order to avoid crisis management or minimize the amount required when problems arise. It would have been cheaper and more efficient.
 
I still believe that part of PR work is similar to the work of the control tower at the airport. People who work there need to be extremely organized, understand the complete flow of the airport, send the correct information to the correct pilot and always have all of the processes correct, in order to operate in case of a possible critical situation.
 
Control towers need the best talents, the best tools and the best planning. This takes time, effort and good investment. 
 
 
Thought Leader Profile
Valéria Café is the COO of Andreoli MSL, one of the 10 largest communication agencies in Brazil and part of the 4th largest PR global agency, which belongs to the Publicis group. 
 
Valeria has worked for Global Companies such as Coca-Cola, Whirlpool, HP and JP Morgan, leading the areas of Marketing, Communication and Sustainability in Brazil and Latin America.  She graduated in Advertising, with Post Graduation in Marketing and an MBA in Business Administration from FDC, recently recognized by the Financial Times as the best Business School in Latin America.
 

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Valéria Café

Valéria Café is the COO of Andreoli MSL, one of the 10 largest communication agencies in Brazil and part of the 4th largest PR global agency, which belongs to the Publicis group.

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