by Ed Lallo, Newsroom Ink
Content is the new king of communications for a company and it’s brand in the digital era. Whether for a mobile app, a company website or an online newsroom; communicating relevant, trustworthy and timely digital information to a wide variety of both internal and external audiences has become 24/7.
The digital audience is become more sophisticated daily. Setting up a static site where the information doesn’t change, or buying advertising and clicks, is “so yesterday”. Every company is now a media company.
“Companies must think like publishers to strategically use social media and engage third-party influencers – all in an effort to support overall business goals,” explained Darin Diehl, assistant vice president of digital communications for Canada’s Sun Life Financial, to more than 150 attendees at the IABC World Conference in Chicago. To enable the company to tell their story to a wider audience, the company created BrigherLife.ca.
According to Diehl, and his co-presenter, Katherine Fletcher a senior vice president at High Roads Communications, BrigherLife.ca is a consumer-focused portal for sharing ideas about money, health and family. Through the use of content and tools on finances, health, family, working life and retirement, the website and its social extensions provides a forum to engage Canadians in the context of the practical challenges and opportunities they face in their everyday lives.
The content marketing site Sun Life has created is an editorial extension of the company. The site uses fresh created and curated content to covert users at the right time to the brand.
As companies expand their communications outside of normal channels, the content that is created and curated must be communicated in a trustworthy manner.
“Trust is the new black,” according to Jane Jordan-Meyer, principal at Jane Jordan and Associates, in her presentation to communicators. “We are moving toward a new “trust economy” that will call for more transparency by corporations.”
To be successful in the digital age, companies must embrace transparency and communicate trust in order to avoid “blood on the floor.”
Most communicators are familiar with more than their share of “blood on the floor”, but according to Steve Crescenzo of Steve Crescenzo Communications, some communicators are habitual criminals writing for the wrong audience: putting the wrong message in the wrong channel; abusing social media; underestimating their audiences; and allowing lawyers and executives to muddle the message.
“Steve Crescenzo’s session was so good,” said Patti Kelly of the IABC Austin chapter. “He is one of the best speakers I’ve seen. I learned and laughed so hard I nearly cried, just a great session.”
Communications and a brands reputation no longer resides solely in the hands of executives and the companies various communication departments. Social and digital media have placed the reputation of both the company and it’s brand in the hands of the employees.
“Naked” is how Barbara Fagen-Smith, CEO of ROI Communications, sees companies as communications bypasses traditional channels. According to her, “Organizations must engaged employees in today’s transparent world.”
The rise of social media has empowered employees and customers alike, giving them a platform of unprecedented reach and resonance. Preaching to an overflow crowd, she examined how some companies are proactively engaging customers through the new media, but fewer are focusing on the audience that could make or break their success: employees.
According to Fagen-Smith, “companies are more exposed and more at risk than ever because of social media.” To be proactive companies must proactively and authentically engage with their employees and embrace the digital and social media. Employees today have the power to shape a company’s reputation in an instant.
Digital and social media have expanded the boundaries of communication. The rise of corporate publishing to tell a brands story to wider audiences using a journalistic approach to create credible, trusted and influential news stories that enhance the reputation of both brand and company is the future of communications.