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.

Introduce key working principles

These principles will put you in good stead because instead of being too prescriptive or too relaxed, there is recognition and consensus on the value each team plays in the success of the campaign.

  • Agree campaign objectives collectively (global and local teams) and how will you define success i.e. key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure and report on
  • Introduce a “buddy system” where local communication partners are assigned a global team buddy to advise on both strategy and ideas for execution throughout the campaign
  • Reduce local resource commitments on activities that can be done by the global team in a cost-effective and timesaving way such as automating processes for tracking KPIs and translating content which can then be reviewed by local teams to reflect colloquial terms.

Look back in order to move forward

Each phase in the planning and execution of a global campaign is important. From setting the campaign goals, creating the campaign narrative and message framework, devising global toolkits and collateral materials, bringing the campaign to life with stories, working with communications business partners throughout the campaign to deliver in their market, engaging people to feel inspired and participate –  all these factors contribute to the success of the campaign.

However, it is crucial to evaluate the campaign from all perspectives:

  • Review ways of working between global and local teams: what worked, what did not work so well, what changes are needed
  • Review roles and responsibilities – is delivering through communications business partners working, should you consider building a champions network
  • Review the message framework – use social listening to understand if your messages were effective, not just well understood but did they help achieve your campaign goals? Are people feeling inspired, motivated, proud of the company they work for? Are they advocates for the brand?
  • Review channel effectiveness: which channel added the most value in meeting your KPIs?
  • Review analytical data and whether the KPIs originally set are a true measure of success


Business Transformation

The final step in the road and the most difficult to achieve is feeding back your learnings into the organisation and influencing change.

  • Set-up briefings with Communications Directors and present an overall global picture of the campaign, asking for their support in implementing the lessons shared
  • Enlist expert help from Digital Communications, HR, Marketing and IT functions to bridge current gaps and improve areas of weakness
  • Change the governance model
  • Build or leverage existing Champions Networks and turn them into campaign advocates
  • Set-up briefings with local teams asking for feedback and adapt the working principles as needed

This is how we, as communicators can add most value to our business.

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Dana Poole is Senior Global Campaigns Manager, Unilever
& VP Marcomms & Social Media, IABC UK

Follow her on Twitter: @dana_poole
Connect via LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/in/danapoole/

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