e4m Women Achievers Summit 2020: ‘Consistency must for effectiveness of communication’
Industry experts share insights on how to devise a clear and effective communication technique
exchange4media unveiled the first edition of its ‘Women Achievers Summit and Awards 2020’ at a virtual event on Wednesday. The day-long virtual event witnessed an interesting panel discussion on the topic - “Media & PR: Devising a Clear and Effective Communication Technique”. Moderated by Jyotsna Sharma, Senior Editor, BW Businessworld, the panellists for the virtual discussion were Sukanya Chakraborty, Global Head - Corporate Communication, VFS Global; Pooja Khan, Head - Corporate Communication, Panasonic; Seema Siddiqui - Head Corporate Communication, PR & Internal Communication, Schneider Electric and Rashmi Soni, VP & Head of Corporate Communication, Vistara.
The esteemed panel explored various strategies and techniques for effective communication with regards to the indefinite association between media and PR and also discussed the impact of COVID-19 and how communication helped the organizations overcome the crisis.
According to Chakraborty, representing right information and catering to the right audience is very important. “In my 21 years of being a practitioner, I have understood that for effective and clear communication it is very important to offer a balanced version of content or story. The right information and the right audience is very important and will ensure that the companies or brands we work for are therefore included in the right narrative that we are trying to drive and also helps build trust with media as well as the audience.”
Speaking about effective communication, Khan shared an interesting strategy for creating effectiveness in communication, she said,“ An Acronym that I have been using a bit, which helps me breakdown what I believe creates effective communication strategies is ‘PRECISE’- P stands for ‘Precise content’ for effective communication; R is the ‘Relevance’, basically, relevance to the current environment, storyline, organisation and totally has to be based on consumer insights to make to relevant; E stands for ‘Effectiveness’, if have taken care of P and R, effectiveness does follow; C stands for ‘Clarity & Creativity’; I for ‘IMPACT’ and without clear ROI and measurement, the efforts are only superficial; S is for ‘Simplicity’ that is jargon-free communication and E stands for ‘Empathy, we all have high-pressure jobs irrespective of the current environment, we are answerable to the management and the media, so let’s be kinder and more respectful to each other.”
Presenting her view on effective communication, Siddiqui shared, "Effective communication is also the kind of communication we have with the key stakeholders for us i.e Media. So how we communicate with them in a meaningful way is what we need to keep in mind. I think what makes for effective communication is absolute conversations happenings and for me, consistency is very important for the effectiveness of communication."
Chakraborty explained why COVID-19 has been an extra special situation for all communication professionals. “While as communication professionals we are used to crisis and managing crisis but COVID as a whole was a situation that helped us look at a lot of things and the way we did it. I work for VFS Global, which is related to travel, which has been one of the most hit sectors and a lot of travel-related business and work also stalled. And also we are governed with a lot of government regulations, we work with governments for visa services. So we had to adhere to all governments we serve in and directives from their end and we are still adhering to the regulations by the government, which is very critical even today, while we are restarting our operations. The other important thing here is that how do you keep the audience (applicants) engaged throughout this phase because there is a lot of anxiety. We had to make FAQs that helped our customers understand and address each and every query that they had in mind through a series of communication.”
Speaking about the actions taken by the organisation to overcome challenges created by COVID-19, Siddiqui shared, “I would like to refer to the Trust Barometer, the results that came in 2020 were fairly unsettling because the trust quotient in lots of institutions was not up to the mark. And also there was a clear trust deficit that we saw even towards corporates and that was a serious wake-up call. Not that we ever underestimated the power of trust and communication but that was a clear call to action. Interestingly, Edelman came up with a report which shows how the landscape changed dramatically with the arrival of the pandemic. So why I mentioned that because as an organisation, we took a very clear stand as we stepped into March probably because the pandemic had already hit several parts of the world. But we decided that this was the time as an organisation we believe in sustainability and it’s very essential to our functioning. And we took a conscious call of silence during that time, so there was very limited reactive media engagements also. We have now started engaging with media in a more proactive way. I think that adherence in the consistency and commitments to people, consciousness of brand building all play a key role"
According to Soni, uncertainty is unnerving but there is always a hidden opportunity in a challenging situation.“COVID-19 has been an unprecedented crisis where no reference or history was available to help people navigate. With most businesses badly impacted and the marketing budget curtailed, the responsibility to promote brands has come on its own channels. But there is always a hidden opportunity when you are facing a challenge, it forces you to come up with creative solutions.”
Sharing further about how Vistara resumed operations post-lockdown and its latest campaigns, Soni said, “After the two months of suspended operations when air-travel resumed, we launched two campaigns - ‘Flying feels safe again’ and ‘Flyer Code’, these were launched to let people know that air-travel continues to be the safest way to travel and to ensure a safer travel experience, what are the measures that we as airline are taking and how customers can contribute to the mission as part of the shared responsibility. We promoted the work of our frontline staff who were putting the safety of our passengers above theirs and when we announced the pay cuts, we knew that the CEO’s mail to the employees will definitely get leaked and to avoid any misinterpretation of our message, we proactively issued statements to explain the process and the impact on employees.”
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