How we as communicators can add most value to our business

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As a corporate communication professional with experience in large multi-national organisations, I know too well the challenges global teams have in effectively rolling out corporate campaigns whether they are aiming to engage employees or consumers:

  • Maintaining brand consistency whilst tailoring the campaign for local markets
  • Not compromising key messages whilst translating into 20+ languages
  • Paying attention to cultural differences
  • Leveraging varying degrees of skills and resources across the organisation
  • Governance models with dotting lines which stretch your influencing skills
  • Competing with local business priorities and marketing campaigns
  • Delivering a global framework for measurement and evaluation

However, emerging digital and social media trends are enabling companies to overcome these challenges, adapt their approach to global campaigns, to innovate and be successful or to fall behind.

  • New technologies have paved the road for virtual team working, Enterprise Social Networks, advanced Content Management Systems allowing content (copy, images, multimedia) to be created once and delivered across multiple channels (website, email, mobile devices) and easier access to data via automated tools (analytics, social media listening, custom dashboards)
  • Governance models see the formation of Centres of Excellence cutting across functions and silos, lines blurring between internal and external communications, between marketing and communications with business and corporate communicators developing new digital and journalism skills due to increased knowledge sharing, Champion Networks and virtual training opportunities.
  • Social media platforms foster collaboration and exchanges of ideas across work level, gender, age group and people come together united not just by work goals but by a common passion.
  • Trust has shifted from leaders and CEOs to friends and colleagues at work, people in our own network. The practice of “stealing with pride” a peer’s idea, campaign poster or report template is widely seen as smart, timesaving and cost-effective.

Here are three strategic insights to help you turn these digital trends into an advantage and innovate global campaign planning and execution.

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10 steps to building an employee champions network

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We trust the people we work with, so we trust what they say.

Once again, the Edelman Trust Barometer reports that we have twice as much trust in ‘experts’ and ‘someone like me’ as we do in our CEOs.

That’s not good news for internal communicators, where traditionally we’ve spent time and resource on developing core channels such as leadership communications and managers as communicators.

So why not invest in a network of employee champions who will communicate your organisational story in a credible way to the people they work with?

A champions network will be your extended voice, reinforcing key messages on the ground to engage the hearts and minds of the people that matter.

Champions know the area of the business they work in better than you. They will instantly localise and tailor your messaging to their audiences. It will be more impactful, more relevant and more authentic.

Take time to listen too. Your network will be your ears and eyes on the ground. Get your champions to feedback on how messages are landing to help you tweak or even switch up your strategy.

Are you in? Here’s how to start…

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How to engage South African style

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You can’t get solid experience without engagement.  That was the topic I  covered at  the South Africa / UK Communicator’s Breakfast, hosted by Lisa Wannell at the VMA Group HQ in London’s leafy Bedford Square.

Specifically, I shared insights from the recent #IABCafrica14 conference in Cape Town. The attendees at the VMA session were from a range of corporates; agencies; freelancers – and also a senior communicator with experience of the workings of the South African government.

You know A-Z but how about an S through A? Here’s a brief index of experience and engagement opportunities in S-O-U-T-H-A-F-R-I-C-A:

  • S – is for Social – and it is still growing – for example, 3m people are now on LinkedIn (vs. 17m for the UK) [for context, compare population counts of 52m vs 64m ].
    • Tip: if you’re looking to operate in South Africa, get ahead of the curve and be sure to have a social presence. The LinkedIn Executive Playbook may come in handy if you want to lead from the front.
  • U – is for Underground – who knew De Beers have coal mines too? (To be fair, they have a point: it is all carbon – some of it is just more dense).
    • Tip: more to the point, there are some real good practice gems out there to be picked up – not to mention an opportunity for yours to be recognised: http://gq.iabc.com/

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