Trends in Corporate Communications. Changes in Senses and Opportunities
Author: Oksana Todorova, President of the Corporate Media Association of Ukraine
Dear colleagues, let me introduce five trends from my book “FUTURE: Trends and Ideas”, which was created based on the powerful experience gained by conducting the annual “Best Corporate Media of Ukraine” contest for twelve years, as well as the fruitful cooperation with the expert Association of Corporate Media. Trends are the waves that bring our business to the future. Study the examples provided and implement ideas in your own practice.
TREND: Everyone Is a Writer, Photographer and Video Operator!
Two years ago, in 2016, users posted more than 2.5 trillion photos online, 90% of which were shot by smartphone cameras. With the advent of new cameras on iPhone 7 and Google Pixel, there has come a revolutionary shift in photography towards smartphones. Users record all the manifestations of life on the run, e.g. photos in elevators, at the work desk, during daily chores, meetings with friends, minor details. And this is what almost every employee can do in the modern business.
We currently broadcast all types of content in a digital communications channel on the Internet. Each of us has an unprecedented opportunity to go live, take photos and videos, automatically create photo slideshows, make video and video clips on our own, easily and quickly. We can use applications for video add-ons with elements of complemented reality.
All these opportunities have identified a new trend: today, the skills of a writer, photographer and video operator are required by a much larger number of people.
Furthermore, it is a great opportunity for corporate communications. After all, each employee can potentially post business-related content on his accounts in social networks and bring benefits to businesses in the field of communications.
On the other hand, it is a risk, because not everyone understands that the content should be of high quality, at a high professional level, and this work requires appropriate qualification, systemic approach, taste and great creative efforts. It is, therefore, quite appropriate for the most creative and active staff to conduct basic PR lessons and training in the development of relevant skills. And most importantly, to form people’s vision of a company’s development, understanding of the motion vector. For example, this type of training is conducted for restaurant staff. Owners of businesses that have advanced in a particular field can conduct training events for the company’s clients. And this trend is fully in line with Philip Kotler’s concept of holistic marketing (referred to the word “whole”). Today’s marketing is not limited to the walls of the office of the marketing experts and PR managers. Today, everyone in business is more or less engaged in marketing: in Sales Department and in Accounting Department – wherever there is interaction with the stakeholders of the organization.
An important rule in creating content is its value, aesthetics, and the ability to stir interest among the target audience. Interestingly, Instagram has found a solution to the current problem of cluttering the timeline with a boring content. A user can post his materials in the ranking mode, whereas the less interesting content, which reflects literally every step of his life, is posted not in the timeline, but in Stories. This culture of behavior, offered by Instagram, allows you to divide the materials into two types. Less valuable materials from the Stories section are entirely deleted in 24 hours after posting, while the really important content, which is stored on the user’s account, goes to the general timeline of users of the social network.
An independent search for each of us in this area is a kind of creative leisure. However, to create corporate content aimed at systematic creating of the company’s image, it is necessary to cooperate with professionals. In order to create a visual content of the company with its own characters, you can arrange for a corporate photo bank. Such opportunities are provided by Lightfield Productions, the largest photo studio in Eastern Europe and the creative space for events. More details about this, as well as the key trends in visual content, can be found in the Case Section in this book.
TREND: The Peter Pan Syndrome
We firmly believe that adulting and aging are not about us. Martin Lindstrom recommends asking employees and clients about their inner age. At his speech in Kyiv, he mentioned that his father always answers this question saying “Twenty-four”. Indeed, at the real age of sixty, his father feels like he is twenty-four years old. Therefore, he will consume products in accordance with his internal feeling. And this means t-shirts and jeans of youth brands, food, motorcycles, communication facilities, etc., which are inherent in a young boy. Our customers do not want to get old as well. Therefore, communications based on this trend will be relevant for both employees and clients. As for employees, mature experts will be fully in demand. Not everyone, of course, but those who lead a healthy lifestyle, have enormous experience, breadth of views, an extensive network of professional contacts, developed emotional intelligence and free time (as children have grown up), the thirst for self-fulfillment and the ability to flexibly develop. In this regard, the comparison with the tree is very appropriate: one can be a powerful oak with a branchy crown, full of strength, energy and a desire to create in the age of fifty, or a broken dry beech tree of thirty-two, without any power and desire to grow and blossom. Peter-Pens are gray girls and boys who refuse to become old, to look weak, to dress up in an old style and to live like elderly people. They prefer fashionable present-day clothing, modern stylish accessories, and exciting intellectual creative work, which means that they have a purchasing power and represent an interesting prospective segment in business.
TREND: Market Oversaturation
Сonstant improvement and innovations in products have led to a great variety of supply in one category. Moreover, oversaturation arose in different directions. We observe an excess of products and services. An incredible quantity of product characteristics has led to functional overload. My husband has worked as a director of a home appliance store for twelve years. According to his observations, if a person is offered more than seven models of a vacuum cleaner, the probability that he will make a purchase decision comes close to zero. There is a lot of doubt, the buyer feels desire to read reviews, begins to doubt even more as to whether he will use all the functions and whether he overpays for unnecessary features and brand name… The intention to convey information to the consumer about all the properties of the goods resulted in over-advertising and complications in corporate messages. And in addition to this crazy number, twelve thousand product innovations are offered annually!
The development of social networks and media channels has led to oversaturation in the media, too. There are tens and hundreds of thousands of TV channels, radio stations, magazines, newspapers, websites on the Internet. For this reason, the time and quality of consumers’ attention, aimed at perceiving messages in such resources, are significantly reducing. To some extent, these factors can be explained by the desire of companies to create their own, corporate media channels. And this, in turn, leads to an even greater overload and increased competition. You can win this race only by changing the approach. Not to strive to strengthen the quantitative component, but to follow a different approach to quality, to quit an ineffective quantitative race moving on to a qualitatively new level of mutual development.
An interesting example of such integration of corporate news in developing content has been demonstrated by Xerox. Well, the information about the launch of product novelties is “hidden” in the cognitive material with an attractive stylish design called “History of the Press”. It all began 3,000 years BC with papyrus and parchment. And then there goes a story about the key stages of history: single-piece print, xylography, moving letters, first copiers. And the material finishes with the announcement of new Xerox products: “In April 2017, Xerox released two new lines of printers and multifunction units (MFUs): VersaLink for small- and medium-sized businesses and AltaLink for big businesses and a large amount of paperwork. The company calls its devices as “business assistants”: they are easy to customize for users’ needs, support cloud services and allow to work in a familiar way through a well-known, thanks to mobile devices, interface. Another benefit of new printers and MFUs is customizable operating procedures with the installation of third-party applications from the Xerox App Gallery shop. VersaLink and AltaLink by Xerox have an intuitive interface that is cross-functional for all devices. Printers are compatible with Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Morphia and NFC technologies”.
Thus, the surplus in product supply, the quantitative growth in communication channels, the oversaturation of contents impel to be more inventive and concise, to refuse complications and to give the audience a greater value.
TREND: Corporate Creativity
“Do you want to write novels and film scripts? We will teach you. Write and breathe!” – the authors of courses call for writers. It is easy to sew! It is simple to draw! It is elementary to embroider! It is great to bake and cook! You can personally sew any dress under the guidance of an instructor in a specialized hub. Or paint a picture with any plot in an art studio together with an artist-tutor. A successful businesswoman, who paints Water Lilies by Monet in her free time, or a director of a large company, who attends confectionery workshops on the weekend, inspire us to develop harmoniously in various spheres. These activities are quite relevant for corporate development programs. Such joint leisure time can increase the level of satisfaction of employees, develop a greater loyalty to the company, ensure more meaning and value to work in this company. In addition, such events is a great material for filling corporate websites with practical materials. Photographic reports in the corporate edition, testimonials about master classes, video greetings with elements of corporate co-creativity add a team-building function and inspiration to working days. Today, everybody wants to be a creator, because this process makes you streamlined, has a beneficial effect on the emotional state, creating a warm friendly climate within the team. Such creative programs form the history of business, leaving artifacts in the form of corporate paintings and décor with the logo of the company. They incite imagination, recharge “creative batteries” of employees, forming additional loyalty to the brand of the employer.
Whatever the motivation of employees is, i.e. work for money, desire to reach unattainable heights or follow one’s vocation, creativity is a feed and resource for energy batteries. And today, more and more companies are turning to this format. Here are some examples of such events: creating a corporate picture at the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Pharmplanet Company; jointly with children of employees, paiting a picture in the museum of Prominvestbank; creating a picture for corporate clients of KIDDISVIT.
Another successful example is the festival-contest of amateur performances of employees of PJSC Ukrtransgas. All branches of Ukrtransgaz from different parts of Ukraine presented their participants in the following nominations: performances (vocal, instrumental genre), choreography, artistic word, decorative and applied art. For the first time in fifteen years, the Public Affairs and Press Department organized a video broadcast of all the competition days that was run online on the official website of Ukrtransgaz, and for three festival days, over twenty thousand users watched it on Youtube. An online SMS-voting was also organized for the audience’s prize, which resulted in more than six thousand SMSs received from the company’s employees and their relatives and friends. Another very interesting experience from Ukrtransgas is joint painting in an art studio from men to women of the company devoted to the Women’s Day.
TREND: Gambling Addiction
This trend is based on the emotional needs of generations Y and Z. Fan, freedom, creativity, enthusiasm, excitement, ease are the starting points of a new generation. So when you need to learn boring arrays of information, it is better to offer the audience to play. The examples of “intertwining” the concept of learning into a game format is the game “Rules of Money” by Oleksandr Astremskyi, the publication of business detectives, whose task is to teach, expand world outlook, inspire.
Also emphasis is shifted to basic corporate events. For example, instead of a feast with toasts and trivial contests, there appear new forms of team-building activities: intellectual games, quest-rooms, fairy-tale therapy and dance lessons, extreme hikes, theatrical performances, talent contests, etc.
An example of the manifestation of gambling in business is corporate tournaments in quest rooms “Claustrophobia”, tournaments of the legendary intellectual game “What? Where? When? , bowling, corporate tournaments of the “Rules of Money” game. This kind of corporate leisure time unites and develops.
Oleksandr Androsov, the producer and TV presenter of the television version of the intellectual game “What? Where? When?” comments: “From the point of view of top managers, “What? Where? When?”, just like, in general, other team intellectual games, is the best way to unite the team, learn how to solve complex tasks in a short time in a stressful situation, identify leaders, understand the strengths and weaknesses of your colleagues. No wonder it is said that in an hour of game you will know a person better than in a year of communication. During the game everything superficial falls down of a person – you see him just as he is. In addition, “What? Where? When?” is a great way to catch a break, and learn something new and interesting. Moreover, the game is always a pleasure. And this is probably the main reason to try”.
Quests in reality are more often used in the corporate segment as a new format of entertainment for employees, as a way to meet new team members or even a business meeting with partners. The task of the players is to solve all the puzzles and get out of the room closed at the time of the game, in one hour. To do this you need to find and use a lot of unusual items, to discover all the hiding places and secrets of the new reality, which the team got into. Such a pastime is remembered not only due to the feeling of victory after the quest, but also due to the adrenaline experienced by all participants in the process, new information for the mind, and the desire to further develop their hidden potential with the help of a game mechanics.
“By organizing a regular corporate event, all managers ask the same question: “How to surprise employees?” Two simple things will help diversify your off-work time: a goal common to the team and the most interesting way to achieve it. It is advisable to set the most daring and unusual goals: to fly with the entire company to another planet or unravel the mystery of the appearance of minions. That is, an action must be focused on an idea and engage by 100% in the process. Thus, for team-building, the quest format is best suited. First, the quest game helps employees reboot, distract themselves from problems, and feel more meaningful. Second, solving of puzzles improves memory, concentration of attention, develops abstract thinking along with the visual one. Thirdly, today’s quest-rooms are not just a consistent execution of tasks, but a full immersion in a story, a new reality. In other words, instead of the usual worrying for the characters of a favorite film or a computer game, each employee becomes himself a real hero for some time. A dose of dopamine with endorphin is guaranteed to your team!”, – says Marina Khlibko, a PR-manager of “Claustrophobia” (quests in reality, Kyiv).
An example of a printed project that illustrates the “Gambling Addiction” trend is the calendar of Interpipe Company. Exciting puzzles decorated in a contemporary design style. And if you fail to cope with the task, do not get upset! You can find the correct answer by clicking on the link located in the QR-code tag on the calendar.
So, friends, we have looked at the trends and ideas that can create space for your professional searches. Generate your own approaches, enhance the classical communication techniques with bright solutions. And let the ideas outlined in this material contribute to your further development.
Oksana Todorova, President of the Corporate Media Association, a graduated Master in International Marketing and Advertising, certified by MBA Professional of Management & Marketing, Universal Business School, an author and a host of corporate training and master classes, an author of five business monographs: “Future: Trends and Ideas” (2018); “Innovation in Communications” (2015); “PR in the Digital Era. The Art of Communications” (2012), “Corporate Media: Press here!” (2010), “Corporate Edition by 200%” (2007), a presenter of the author’s course “Communication for Business and Career”. She conducts corporate trainings on the following topics: “Innovative Communication Tools”, “Energy of the Stream – Improvement of Personal Efficiency”, “Spiral Dynamics – Evolution of Thinking”, etc. Since 2006, she has organized the annual forum “Innovations in Communications. Trends” and the “Best Corporate Media of Ukraine” contest.
In her spare time, Oksana holds master classes in the a la prima drawing technique in an individual and a corporate formats. She manages the “Dream & Rejoice!” project in the art school. She writes and illustrates fairy tales.
Together with her husband, she brings up two daughters. Oksana is keen on yoga, and keeps a healthy lifestyle.
Hashtag in the instagram #оксанавдохновляет (Oksana inspires, – transl.)