Main Takeaways from 'Enter-the-firm'
Events with a diversity of organisations tend to produce a diversity of ideas. The shared experiences of a city council and a private business at Logeion and pr.co's ‘Enter-the-firm' event was a great example of this: two very different organisations showed where they intersect in communication strategies, but also how they used their own individual communities to play to their strengths.
Here are some of the main takeaways from the varied presentations by Stad Gent, WeTransfer and pr.co:
City of Gent (Stad Gent)
The presentation by Mieke de Buysere and Kim de Raedt, the External Communications team at Stad Gent can be found here:
Change is possible, even when it seems impossible
Remarkably, The City of Gent used to physically read out their press releases to journalists in specially created interactive press lounges. Think the White House Briefing Room but- much like the city of Gent- considerably more beautiful. Needless to say, this was quite inefficient. But things seemingly steeped in tradition do not have to stay that way: after some internal discussion Stad Gent decided to modernize and adopt pr.co’s digital newsroom, creating a sizeable impact on the city’s communication.
Harnessing technology produces real results
Within their digital newsroom, Stad Gent has been able to create richer press releases where audio-visuals are standard. A new brand consistency has been achieved through all communication and as a result they now have a vibrant press-following full of engaged journalists, despite the fact their team is half the size it was originally. On top of this, all the information that they release is now up-to-date and accurate, as they can edit the online version of a press release even after they've sent it out, making them a more reliable source. Building trust with journalists has helped to create and nurture lasting relationships.
Personalised calls-to-action are 202% more successful than generic ones. When Stad Gent started using their digital newsroom to target specific journalists they switched from the ‘broadcast style’ communication of press mailing to a much more successful system of personalized invitations and press releases. This lead to many more responses and follow-ups from the press.
We now do more with 2 people than we previously did with 4
Digital newsrooms can massively improve efficiency
In the past a lot of back and forth communication was needed to get things going at Stad Gent. In the process of getting approval from various departments and wading through word documents and emails, they would often end up losing edits. After adopting the new system they can now track revisions, since things are in the cloud, so the collaborative flow has been streamlined. Internal efficiency improved so much in fact, that the communications team was able to reduce to half its size, as they now do more with 2 people they previously did with 4.
The presentation by Søren Lund Nielsen, PR & Communications Coordinator at WeTransfer, can be found here:
Cross-cultural collaboration is the new norm
The communications team at WeTransfer work closely with their team in LA. In the wake of globalisation, teams working across borders and languages are commonplace, and without a collaborative digital tool this quickly become a headache. Fortunately with digital newsrooms teams can work in real time across different languages- while being able to easily track and approve revisions and edits- all from the same digital space.
Know thy audience
After discovering that their audience were creatives, WeTransfer made a conscious commitment to address this community directly. All their communications were then geared towards young artists, musicians and writers, who in turn became champions for the brand. Now WeTransfer hosts an eye-watering 1 billion monthly transfers and has securely positioned itself as one of the most famous online file-sharing platforms.
Always support your community
Sometimes you have to turn down money, to make money. As part of this ongoing commitment to their audience, WeTransfer vowed to spend 30% of their ad space showcasing new artists. This had the dual effect of building trust amongst their community but also building brand awareness. After all, there are a lot of exciting young artists out there who could have their lives transformed after being featured on a platform with such high exposure. Unsurprisingly, brand loyalty increased enormously as a result.
If you expand, make sure your values match up
WeTransfer want you to know that they are now so much more than a file sharing platform. They share the arts in general, and they do this through a variety of initiatives, including WePresent which profiles diverse artists. They also recently acquired the creative apps Paper® and Paste™, expanding their range of services for creatives. This is all in line with their company values of enabling the artistic community through technology, therefore maintaining brand consistency.
Everything WeTransfer does is in line with the company values: serving the creative community through technology has the complementary effect of bringing value to the brand
Don’t be afraid to have an opinion
After nurturing their brand and online platforms, WeTransfer decided that sometimes it was OK to use these platforms to voice an opinion. After all, the creative community it served was young and modern, and appreciated WeTransfer’s stance on issues such as gun violence. This helped WeTransfer to stay authentic, and further build trust with their customer base.
The presentation by Stefan Fountain, CEO of pr.co, can be found here:
Don’t get left behind
Imagine that the history of technology resembles stratum, the geographical layers that exist beneath your feet, each technological advancement supporting the next. Luckily for modern communicators there is a rather sturdy foundation of communicative technology from which to draw helpful tools, and it’s thanks to this that the likes of digital newsrooms exist. However, if this technology is ignored, an organisation runs the risk of being left behind.
We can (and should) help each other out
When Silicon Valley first started producing the startups that were to become the cultural behemoths of today, a culture of collaboration arose that still exists in part today. Large companies still support startups- yes to make money- but also to stay close to innovation. Likewise, in a startup hub like TQ, sharing skills across the community is the norm. When we pull each other up, everyone benefits. The same could be said of local governments with similar initiatives such as bike sharing, who have exchanged this best practice over time, to the benefit of cyclists everywhere.
Failing is OK, we just need to fail faster
Municipalities and businesses are bound to fail sometimes, failing is natural, and without it we could not learn the lessons that lead to innovation. In order to fail and pick ourselves up faster, tools have been developed to help us build, measure, and learn.
Trust has been lost, and it’s our job to get it back
It is now understood that at the same time that customers lost their trust in businesses and state entities, they began to gain trust in their peers. This loss of trust was due in part to poor communication; brands were inconsistent, they lied, and they were unable to meet their audience with understanding. The good news is, these are all things that can be changed, and there are tools out there to help.
Without failure, success is not possible. Just make sure that the failures occur as early as possible in the process so that you learn as quickly as possible.
Customers are no longer on the outside
In times of yore brands controlled their image because they controlled communication at large. This meant that their audience were a much more passive entity, absorbing messaging carefully curated by brands. Now, with modern communication being so diverse, this is no longer the case. Customers have become part of an organisation like never before, meaning the communicative approach also has to adapt. If you meet your audience where they are in this journey you will communicate with them far more effectively.
Treat your audience like a hero
In order to regain the trust we once had, communicators must re-frame and stop positioning themselves as a hero, but instead as a mentor. With your audience framed as the hero of a story they will immediately feel engaged and the storyteller, as their mentor, will be able to offer them something genuinely useful. When communication professionals develop empathy for their audience they soon realise they are worth the fight.