Changing the way we communicate

Guest Column: Raheel Zahedi, Senior Manager Corporate Communications- Asia Pacific Region, FIS, makes a case for staying optimistic about work in this critical time

e4m by Raheel Zahedi
Updated: Apr 2, 2020 7:07 PM
PR and Corp Comm

The world is currently coping with the change that the ongoing pandemic has brought into our lives, bringing our daily operations to a grinding halt. We’re living in the midst of a cataclysm wherein no human being has been spared. Whether social-distancing, working from home or anxiety about what the future holds, COVID-19 has altered us in some capacity.

 The PR industry is in for a major change once this epidemic is dealt with. The challenging circumstances are giving a tough time to organisations in pursuing business as usual, but it is also paving way for innovative ideas. With Globalisation, teams are spread all over the world; Technology enables us to work from anywhere, anytime. New-age communication tools and services, including Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Webex and others, facilitate connecting people across companies, and not just within a company. While working remotely, most of the communication professionals can conduct their regular meetings, with catch-ups happening over collaboration apps.

 Communication professionals are in a fix, hence very cautious of what they are communicating to the audience. A lot of them are going back to the drawing boards in determining what the world will be like post the calamity. This will also require them to revisit their plans and goals, and understand how they will be able to successfully utilize the unused budgets for campaigns.

Companies that consumer-facing have been the worst hit. The outbreak of the virus has resulted in the cancellation of major trade events, press conferences and even experiential engagement with customers. Most companies are pushing the envelope in trying to conduct regular operations, which include implementing both traditional and new-age approach. Telephonic media interaction is a common practice in use for years now for those based at a distant location. We are also witnessing a surge in the adoption of virtual media conferencing across geographies. Despite the scale of the event has come down, the delivery of messaging has been consistent with this targeted approach. This requires the right infrastructure to host, manage and share adequate content. The practices are well-suited at a time when mainstream media houses have decided to stop the circulation of print copies and opted for online channels.

 How we interact with our agencies at this crucial time, is of massive consequence. The relationship between a Corporate Communication professional and a PR agency determines how the business would speak in one voice, with the consistency of messaging and tonality. The attitude of a Corporate Communication professional towards the PR agency must not be that they 'work FOR me’; it should be that they ‘work WITH me'. The positivity embedded by the corporate communications to its agency plays a pivotal role in helping achieve long-term success even during trying times like these. A PR agency is more like an extended team. Hence it is important to understand their challenge as well since it’s imperative that we strike the right tone with them so that they stay engaged, satisfied and devoted to the client. It is the collective effort of the senior management at the PR agency level and the Corporate Communications team, to train the team for a period of time if they intend on yielding significant and demonstrable results in terms of capacity building, through upskilling, training and implementing the best practice.

 We should remain optimistic in this critical time. A sudden shift to remote working can prove disruptive. However, expecting the transition to be smooth overnight is unfair. This will not only require a work-approach evolution but also an acceptance of cultural and social mindset.

For more updates, be socially connected with us on
WhatsApp, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Youtube