Corporate communication is a matter of (good) strategy
In the era the overinformation and permanent encouragement, in which the battle for influence is increasingly fierce, the diplomatic work of good business communication integrated into the company's strategy is essential to make a difference ... or simply to guarantee survival. That is one of the key ideas of «120 Notes on corporate communication (for non-communicators)», a revealing and practical manual of suggestions and tools oriented especially to the non-professional, «directors and managers who believe that they know how public opinion is formed, and actually end up making mistakes difficult to correct », but in which a person in charge of communication will also find« many things with which he will identify », according to the author, the journalist Carlos Balado.
With extensive experience on both sides of the barrier (he worked for 13 years in different newsrooms and for more than two decades he has exercised corporate communication at the highest management level in entities such as CECA or Banco Popular), Balado is clear about the starting point of corporate communication: «It must be part of the company's strategy. If it has a good strategy, everything will be fine; If you have it bad, it will go wrong. But communication can not compensate for a bad strategy ».
The author further argues that the manager must understand that a communication strategy is a "Long-term work that affects all public with which the company interrelates, not only in the journalistic world: we speak about public opinion, and that implies stakeholders, shareholders, employees, institutions ... that is, basically what the communication of the company is to influence ».
Establishing a sports analogy, Balado believes that a modern society is like a league in which all kinds of institutions (military, political, industrial, technological, publishing ...) "They compete with each other for influence and notoriety and for being in the market. Some markets that, in turn, are formed with opinion. And if the markets are opinion, a company can not stop influencing that opinion ». Non-communication is not an option.
To reach that goal is impossible without a defined and dynamic strategy that must be based on three pillars: to make a good diagnosis of the situation and the obstacles and risks that it entails; define the policy via which marks the path through which we will move forward and, finally, establish a coherent plan of action. The communication director must participate in this strategy, «And to depend on the first executive, he must have his confidence, his work can not be relegated or be subsidiary, because his answers have to be in real time. If you do not have all the information, there is nothing to do, you will never be able to add value to the company. "
However, very often, the three basic rules are not met by organizations: "In many cases obstacles are not well identified, goals are confused with objectives or wishes are formulated that the company and employees do not understand", explains Balado. This is when the work of the communication area is reduced to a simple (and useless) fire-extinguishing instead of identifying with the preventive work of a doctor. In any case, the need to influence is made more necessary than ever by the growing prominence of social networks that "are a means of expression and not of information", and in which public opinion is being configured 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A difference between opinion and information, "which has also been diluted in some media, especially digital media."
Another key idea is that the axis of modern communication is the brand. «A brand is a promise made to the public and the person in charge of it takes care that it is fulfilled». The credibility of a company, the author points out, is in the way it relates to its customers, shareholders and employees. And the work of the communication department is to shore up that relationship by establishing more facts than words and finding answers when the client understands that the promise linked to the brand is not fulfilled.
Facts more than words
Despite the new sources of opinion generation, the relationship with the information professional is still one of the most important tasks of a communication manager. Carlos Balado is clear that "journalists want facts. It is in his nature to want news and not settle for something else ». The manager has a hard time understanding that "if you or your company does not provide them, another will do it, or even you or your company will be the news".
«The media have their way of understanding things and you must understand their logic. If not, you can not relate to them. You can transmit information, but there will be no communication. It is useless to explain facts in the way that a company believes most convenient, without taking into account the target audience, since your interlocutor discovers or deflates the way of keeping things according to their interests or values. The media have the presumption of truthfulness, and establish what is important and what is not, and it will continue to be so. And they have the capacity to mark the agenda, to prioritize priorities and influence public opinion. If this is not clear, the company has a serious problem, "concludes Balado.
How to find points of contact between the opposing interests of the journalist, or any other group or institution, and those of your company is, in short, one of the main challenges of a communication manager, a diplomatic job that Balado summarizes with a phrase de André Maurois: «Expose hostility with courtesy, indifference with interest and friendship with prudence». The secret of success lies in "always telling the truth, avoiding conflict. The truth can never offend, another thing is the word you use to transmit it ».