Like the pyramid makers in ancient Egypt, to dabble with communication in the 21st Century is to scale upon the dunes of innovation.
Organisations, be they corporate firms, government parastatals, entrepreneurial startups or service providers, are left with no option but to ensure they communicate and do so effectively. The catch, however, is that changes in the communication landscape mean that audiences are harder to reach.
It is this that the President of the Public Relations Society of Kenya (PRSK) Dr. Wilfred Marube addressed during the rebranding of the Athi Water Works Development Agency (AWWDA) in June 2019.
Dr. Marube talked of the changing landscape, which is epitomized by the change in the target for organisations when communicating.
Modern Communication Landscape That All Organisations Must Appreciate
“We are moving away from broadcasting, to narrowcasting. From sharing information with the masses to sharing information to the individual,” Marube noted concerning the current communication landscape.
At the same time, the explosion of social media, accompanied by the regime of fake news is a reality that communicators in organisations can’t run away from. “How prepared are we?”
When it comes to engaging the audience, the mordern day communication landscape is also filed with newer generations, particularly the Millenials and Generation Z, who’s purview of the world is much different from that of older generations.
These generations are living in an era of information overload, where attention spans are much shorter, and where there there is volatility, complexity and unpredictability in the current world.
“We are in an age of increased public scrutiny and mistrust of organisations,” the PRSK President added.
With this in tow, Dr. Marube thus proposed these nine ways that organisations can be effective in the current communication landscape.
1.Architect of Reputation
“The modern communicator must help to design and build the reputation of institutions,” says Dr. Marube, laying the responsibility of relaying the organisation’s reputation firmly in the communication arm.
2. Researcher in Chief
Research, research, research is key, said the PRSK President. “They must have all the nitty gritties on behalf of the organisation,” he added. As such, the business that wants to succeed in communication must have its communicators in the know of who, what, where, how, when, where and how of the society, and of any other topics that could be key to reaching audiences.
3. Local Weather Person
An organisation’s communicator should be able to read the mood of the current landscape so as to tell when risk is at hand to the business. As such, nothing should catch the organisation by surprise.
When the firm’s communicator is both the architect of reputation and the local weather person, then they should be in a position to detect any danger that is coming the company’s way.
5. Truth Bearer
This is especially in relation to the senior management. “However much the truth is bitter, it is the role of the modern communicator to tell the king or the queen that they are naked.”
Tied to this is the fact that communicators must also be the counselor in chief to the senior management as regards decision making, especially when it comes to actions that may lead to potential conflict with fellow stakeholders, partners or customers.
7. Conditioning Coach
Modern communicators must constantly train the rest of the organisation, so that more than one person is ready to speak on behalf of the organisation if need be, and particularly when crisis arises.
8. Matchmaker and Relationship Coach
In this role, the communicator identifies stakeholders important to the organisation and work out how to manage these relationships for the good of the organisation.
“Institutions have stories,” said Dr. Marube. It is these stories that attract audiences and every organisation, company, business or government parastatal needs to be in a position to communicate these stories in an attractive manner.