In these days of forced stops, which give you time to read more calmly and to stop and think, I am left with the following reflection of the British philosopher John Gray: “one advantage of quarantine is that it can be used to renew ideas. Cleaning up our minds and thinking about how to live in an altered world is our task now. For those of us who are not serving in the front line, this should be enough for as long as the confinement lasts”.
I apply this to my field by asking myself: does business communication make sense? In the course of many webinars that I have attended in recent days, I have noticed that communication and journalistic work are gaining more weight and value than ever before. With this affirmative answer the next question that arises is: what is going to change?
It is more than likely that the globalization of recent decades will come to an end and that, at least for a time, our way of life linked to permanent and unlimited mobility will be greatly reduced. This same globalization has made us understand that all companies, large and small, are interdependent.
We will now have less physical contact but our virtual contact has grown exponentially. Technology helps us and will help us more to live in these confined conditions. The Internet is saving us from isolation and allowing us to get on with our lives. The pandemic will strengthen the sense of group and community. In fact, it has already done so. Until now when we felt invulnerable it seems that personal autonomy was the most sacred good but the coronavirus has made safety and feeling part of a group the most important things.
And how does this apply to business communication? The most important thing will be to communicate well the corporate purpose. This crisis, as opposed to 2008, has a mixture of fears: the economic and the existential; in this explosive mixture the most important element for communication will be the employees themselves. They will have to participate in defining or approving that corporate purpose. Now the internal communication wins in its entirety and if that part does not work perfectly everything that is done outwards will be mere cosmetics and therefore a useless exercise.
The construction of a company’s public image starts from the inside, having well-defined purpose and employees who support that corporate purpose.
Is there any mechanism to control the business and communication crisis that a tsunami like the Covid causes? The answer is “no”. Our companies will now have all kinds of problems, but having a clear purpose and well aligned employees the crisis will be less. The coronavirus should lead us to rethink many things as companies and as citizens. Faced with a crisis the company has much to lose: employees, image, credibility, customers … companies must react immediately and ensure that the messages that are issued are clear, understandable and consistent with the business purpose. Now that we spend less time in meetings, we have to spend time planning to think about and develop our messages. According to the RAE the word “crisis” defines “the decisive moment of a business, serious and with important consequences”. We are now living through very complicated times as a society and from a business point of view where we must reflect on the mission, vision and values. We will have to confirm or reformulate them, but now more than ever communication makes us more human and therefore better professionals.
This article has been published in the Boletín Diario del Seguro (BDS) of INESE.
Managing partner at PROA Comunicación