September 22, 2014

Guest blog post: Media Disruption – An Avenue of Opportunity

Atte Palomäki

Vice President, Communications & Branding, Wärtsilä

This blog post is a part of our blog challenge, commenced by Tieto's CMO Mattias Isaksson.

Disruption and Democratization of Media

In today’s technology-enabled world, our access to produce, disseminate, and consume information has exploded. This democratization of media has also dramatically transformed the playing field for corporate communications, brand building, and reputation management.

A piece of information (or disinformation) can go viral in an instant, and has the ability to travel across the continents. We are witnessing an irreversible power shift to individuals, who are often the consumers. Online word-of-mouth has become a key feature in decision making, even in the B-to-B world.

The amount of messages we are exposed to is at an all-time high, and it is increasingly difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Plus, all of this information is somehow biased and can even be malicious at times – there are plenty of wolves dressed as sheep on the web. This disruption calls for new skills of media-literacy for everyone, and for companies, it requires rigorous monitoring and analysis of publicity, with the capacity to jump in whenever needed.

“Society is more atomized and activist,” writes Robert Phillips in his upcoming bookTrust me, PR is dead.” While Phillips argues that PR is not equipped to deal with this societal change, I believe many PR professionals are already out there, understanding how to strike through in the post-Occupy era.

This democratization of media is a golden opportunity for companies to get direct access to their audiences. As the role of media outlets wanes and the modern PR toolbox includes a more robust digital presence with tailored content, it is easier to converse and collaborate to ultimately link the corporate narrative with societal needs. A company should interact with the community around it by acting as a force of positive change.

Culture is Key

More than ever, corporations will benefit from a distinct culture and shared values to drive their operations. Effective multi-channel communication in such a culture drives awareness, preference, and even choice among a myriad of stakeholders, while creating a strong sense of purpose among personnel.

In the transparent digital media, landscape brands are under constant scrutiny. Thus, successful distinction requires a genuine approach. In other words, a company must consistently behave as it claims to do, and manifest that through visible actions.

Recent studies from the United States claim emergence of the “authentic enterprise,” in which the reputation of a company is acknowledged as the responsibility of everyone in that enterprise, not just the people responsible for reputation management. Just imagine the opportunities coming from an army of brand ambassadors compared to the fading effect of traditional marketing communications.

This is where a CCO or CMO can make a difference in the boardroom. It is her or his role to identify and understand how societal change links with revenue generation, and to find ways to tap company messaging into the surrounding megatrends. In short, keep asking “Why?” And once the last “why” is asked, that answer must become the lifeline and purpose for the company, and understood and signed off by all in that company. With behaviors shaped towards the common purpose, management can trust that everyone shoots for the same goal.

Executive Vice President, Communications & Branding, Atte Palomäki is responsible for integrated corporate communications, brand management, marketing communications and investor relations in Wärtsilä, the global leader in lifecycle power solutions. Wärtsilä is known for its proactive and creative communications both in traditional channels and in social media. You can find Atte on Twitter. You can read the original post here.

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