Tilak Amitava Chowdhury, Head Corporate Marketing & Communications, Egis India Consulting Engineers Pvt Ltd.
Gone are the days when the mass media was the answer to all problems for companies. It sold their products, it created their reputation through engaging ads and it got them the visibility they needed to be in the mind space of the consumers. Times have changed. The Communication. The Companies and the Consumers. All have undergone a huge change. Let us look at each one of the three to understand what I am trying to get at.
Communication was earlier very simple. One needed to pump in money on television and print. And the messages were delivered. Brands were built. It used to be a one-way communication. But then suddenly one day, the social media happened. And it gave voice to the consumers. And after so many decades of having no voice, the consumers started communication loud and clear. They started expressing themselves on anything and everything and suddenly everything was vulnerable. Mistakes of companies started getting magnified and it made news spread like wildfire. And the earlier mass produced communication solution was suddenly not sufficient. It needed more customized solutions for smaller groups of people who had their own mind and voice.
The Companies too changed. Earlier, companies used to be like a factory production line. Everyone played a small part in the finished product and together they produced the final goods that got marketed to the world. Together they were a winning team alone they were nothing. Today, as the economy is more and more knowledge centric and service oriented, the Companies are more like shopping malls where each professional owns a shop. So though the shopping mall is responsible for the overall footfalls or sales, each shop can develop their own fan following and add to the footfalls or sales. This is again possible by the social media and rise of the visibility of the employees. Today, Elon Musk adds to the brand value of Tesla and vice versa. Satya Nadella adds value to Microsoft and vice versa. Richard Branson adds to Virgin and vice versa. We are seeing employees of companies are becoming brand ambassadors for their companies and helping in reaching newer markets. For example, Microsoft having an Indian CEO gives a lot of hope to Indians and the Indian population favors Microsoft for elevating one of them at the helm. Today, as Simon Sinek outs it, it’s not what you do but why you do that matters. And the why can be explained by the employees, the partners and the loyal consumers about why a brand does what it does.
The Consumers have also changed. Many companies are realizing that their own employees are also their consumers. They help propagate the why of the company to the world. A positive employee spreading positive word of mouth to the world can create a more positive image than spending a a million dollars on some vanilla advertising. Today, your employees are truly the assets of the companies as on platforms like Linkedin, GlassDoor and Facebook they can represent the companies and create positivity around the brands and companies they work for.
Employee engagement is very important today. Imagine if employees start talking bad about their companies on these platforms, how much of energy companies are going to waste in curtailing it. On the contrary if they talk good things about the company, companies can get so much earned and trusted media free of cost.
In the post COVID19 world, where money and trust will be the scarce resources, employees and associates are going to be the most trusted resources of the Company. Mass media spends are likely to go down as the cashflow gets impacted in these lean months around the world. The micro communication platforms in the social media in the form of employee voice, will either save the company or kill it.
In the future, we will see trends where the employees and associates who will form the goodwill army of the brands and companies save and build reputations of the companies and help them thrive in an increasingly uncertain future where external threats can strike anytime and internal strengths will need to be developed and utilized for survival and growth.