Just as the industrial economy was marked by the expansion of markets, the incorporation of new spaces and the working mass, the post-COVID-19 ‘new situation’ points to digital transformation and innovation.
Although there is no predefined plan or magic recipes, communication is a strategic and transversal factor in the processes of innovation and digital transformation that support the survival and growth of companies.
While society turns its eyes and hopes to scientific and technological research to find answers to the reality imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are looking for theirs in the sea of doubts about the ‘new normality’. These contradictory words define the situation we are facing, which is obviously complex and unknown, where companies have to play a central role in economic development and, consequently, in social welfare.
Just as the distribution and logistics sector has adapted to consumer behaviour, the other sectors must do the same and adapt their communication plans to their new needs. The ‘new normality’ anticipates economic risks that have more to do with citizens’ expectations than with the slowdown in economic activity itself. Therefore, we are faced with the perception of risk as a key element in understanding social trends. In this context, the quality of communication is perceived as a strategic and transversal factor.
Communication is a strategic business factor in the face of the ‘new normality’, where innovation is no longer an option but a pressing need. We must contribute to the implementation of a culture of innovation and, specifically, communication professionals must explore new tools that allow us to exchange information and knowledge with our audiences.
We communicators are a fundamental part of the organizational innovation of companies and institutions. We can incorporate other audiences into the communication plan, connecting workers, clients, regulators, stakeholders, and the media, among others. The best communication, therefore, requires planning actions and conceptualizing who we are addressing to direct and collect information. Communication is essential to involve the company’s public in its activity. This means maintaining an active listening strategy, as risk communication must be two-way if it is to be effective. Obviously, this communication must be established with frankness and honesty, in order to generate trust and credibility.
In this area, we professionals contribute to the identification of rapid changes in social trends and value aspects such as visibility of production close to the consumer. We contribute to anticipate scenarios in moments of uncertainty that can be a speaker of the business activity in the media agenda. All this without neglecting internal communication, since the company is responsible to its workers as a source of true and correct information of interest, and even to become a reference in the face of misinformation and hoaxes.
The pandemic has made it necessary for journalists and other communication professionals to translate complex and variable knowledge into a plain language, intelligible to the non-specialist public. Just as there are specialized journalists who report on the advances of science to satisfy an audience that demands more objective information and deeper treatment, there are specialized professionals who incorporate an essential asset to the business organization. One of the company’s organizational solutions is to develop an effective communication strategy or formulas that incorporate it as a key asset along with simplifying processes and taking advantage of the environment and proximity.
Currently, there are many reasons for a proactive communication policy, which is more efficient if it incorporates active and two-way listening as a fundamental tool of its policies. For this purpose, it is necessary to follow the social networks as active channels where elements that shape perception are identified.
Communication in the ‘new normal’ is like an insurance policy: a fixed cost that prevents higher costs.
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Journalist specialized in science, technology and innovation and PhD in Journalism from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Experience as a communication advisor in the Ministries of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness and later in the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities. Previously, he was Director of International Communication and Public Outreach at the City of Energy Foundation, where he assumed responsibility for the social perception of the Compostilla Project before the European Commission to develop the technology of CO2 capture, transport and storage in Spain. During this period he was responsible for the Communication of the Spanish CO2 Platform. For 6 years he coordinated the Master in Journalism and Communication of Science, Technology and Environment at the University Carlos III of Madrid. Previously, he worked in the communication departments of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE), Repsol YPF and the Higher Council of Business and Commercial Graduates of Spain.