‘Digitization along with energy efficiency & sustainability is the way forward’
Seema Siddiqui, GM - PR and Internal Communications, Schneider Electric India, highlights the way forward for communicators, leveraging digital and festive investments
The new wave of disruption through technology has bridged the gap between process, automation and efficiency. The proliferation of digitization across spectrum has brought a significant change in the work-life expectation and demographics. With rebooted business operations, workforce is slowly getting back to their offices with a changed mindset for their workplace and its infrastructure. People have started giving priority to remote working, personalization of their space, energy efficiency along with reduced operational costs and few resources. Schneider Electric is working in this direction to cater to the changed demands of consumers.
With focus on space optimization, employee well-being, employee experience, and operational efficiency, Schneider Electric, one of the key players in digital transformation of energy management and automation, has been working to make smarter workplaces. Realizing the need of the hour, it has come up with latest offerings like anti-bacterial and self-disinfecting switches and sockets EcoStruxure Building Advisor.
Seema Siddiqui, GM- PR and Internal Communications, Schneider Electric India, discusses the key learnings from the past months, leveraging digital, new trends in communications, festive season investments and more in the latest edition of ‘e4m PR and Corp Comm Festive Series’.
How have the past six months been for the organization? What were the key learnings?
The past 6 months have been challenging, on various fronts, like they have been across industry and the globe. While it is still early, it is clear that communication with external stakeholders as well as employees, have come to the centre stage.
How we deal with tough times is an index of reputation of a brand. We scaled down our external communication for a period of time, and kept it limited to critical insights which were relevant in times of economic/ financial crisis. Empathy and sensitivity informed all our communication, especially during this time.
It was also a time when business was focused on employees’ safety and engagement. As a business we rapidly adjusted to make sure that communication internally was completely focused on employee safety and wellbeing.
We rapidly aligned ourselves to a more digitized world and to working from home. As the Edelman ‘Trust index’ revealed, we learnt the value of the currency of trust, in the information we are sharing, in work we were delivering- and how that adds incremental value to brands.
As a communicator, I learnt how we handle crisis is the ultimate test of our skill as a communicator. Whether it is a public health scare or a brand reputation crisis, as a communicator we are taught to stay prepared for challenges, this period just reiterated that learning.
The biggest learning by far has been that storytelling remains powerful, as it allows us to make sense of chaos, overcome challenges, celebrate each other’s success, revel in innovation, delivered in times of adversity and recalibrate the purpose of our journey.
With the increase in online traffic and digital getting a major push, how did the brand leverage digital?
Digital is the way into the future as we can see now. Over these last few months, we have been part of the rapidly digitising world of communication too. At Schneider Electric, our journey of digitisation in communication began several years ago with internal communication platforms and we leveraged them in a big way during this time for regular connects with leadership and employees. They have been the window into consistent engagement with our internal stakeholders across issues of healthcare, wellbeing, business updates and more.
Our engagement with the media too went digital with digital platforms being used for media interviews almost regularly. We have had an extensive digital engagement in place, with our customers across several touch points and this was only scaled up during this time. Along with this we have looked at interesting new digital tools for engagement with our external ecosystems including exploring podcasts, virtual platforms for hosting events and webinars and participating in industry sessions.
What has been the shift in brand communication around these Covid-infected months? What are the new trends that have stepped in the communications industry?
Communication has become critical in these times and businesses recognise that it is important to leverage this to address and effectively diffuse challenges which come up. The inflection which I see in communication is largely around empathetic communication. Sensitivity has become important in how we communicate and what we communicate. Staying very focussed on relevance of communication too is critical- given that people are overwhelmed with the unpredictable world in which they find themselves today- and the deluge in information made available to them.
The way forward is digital, but the human element will remain critical, so a humanising of this digital space will increasingly happen which will be front ended by more unique and customizable content. Also, the need for specialist information and depth stories is likely to rise and stay. Certain issue will stay important including sustainability and climate change and how all of us can engage in more responsible behaviour towards this planet, going forward.
As communicators, specialist and unique content will have to become our forte along with the ability to adapt to a world which will remain in flux for a while now.
How has the consumer behaviour changed? How did your brand manage to stay relevant in its communication?
While caution has been the hallmark of consumer behaviour in the recent times and across the board they pulled back on discretionary spending, the criticality of essentials remained. Schneider Electric plays in the unique space of energy efficiency and digitisation for creating sustainable outcomes. Sustainability has been critical and will be even more relevant as we go through the pandemic and beyond. We play in critical areas of healthcare, datacentres, power which have remained operational and in more significant ways.
With a meaningful purpose which guides Schneider Electric’s business, and in terms of what we equip our customers and partners to achieve sustainably, we have, as a brand stayed as relevant as we were before the pandemic.
What are the areas that the brand is investing in during the festive chatter?
We are focussed on helping businesses use energy more sustainability and efficiency. In the recent times for the residential segment we have launched anti- bacterial switches. We have also brought to our customers Smart housing with our Wiser Smart homes. We continue to bring energy efficient solutions for businesses and industries as we go, investing 5% of our revenue into our R&D.
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