Becoming digital-first in its approach to communications meant more than ramping up its Twitter channel or adding functionality to its website. It meant that this financial services organization had to re-think what communications was about: its goals, its limitations, and its processes.
This was as much about a mindset as it was about tools or processes or digital assets. With an understanding of the dynamics of digital - such things as the power of content targeting, the need for speed, the demand for authenticity, the shift from owning to participating, the power that came from mining data - the organization could shape the conversations around its brand, be responsive to the needs and behaviours of its stakeholders, and see where issues were going before they landed on its head. And it could respond to the triggers that engaged and excited - and get the attention - of an empowered but informationally overwhelmed audience.
A robust education process, starting with leadership, helped garner acceptance of key aspect of the digital reality: that markets are conversations; and that trust had to be earned. I trained communicators across the organization. I established processes and governance for content development and distribution. I harnessed and shared the power of data through a robust listening program and business intelligence initiatives. I embedded a digital-first mindset across public affairs, communications, marketing, and customer service.
A paradigm shift occurred in how the organization thought about communications. It realized it no longer had to depend on intermediaries, that it had intellectual power that could be harnessed to create engaging and helpful content, and that it had the ability to package and distribute its thinking in new, exciting, dynamic ways. It soon started to take on the characteristics of a media company. It accepted that its brand story was a conversation that it hosted and in which it participated. It looked upon risk as something to be managed rather than eliminated. And it changed how people thought about the role of communications - that it was not just about responding to needs but unearthing entirely new business opportunities.
With rapid growth, heightened competition, and increased scrutiny, this organization realized that it had no choice but to seize of the story it told and participate in the one being written by others.
This organization recognized that it could increase its visibility and build trust and engagement by developing high-value, engaging content on themes rooted in its brand identity - and then to integrate that content across channels.
As a business based on trust, this organization seized the opportunity to use social media to extend its reach, offer unprecedented accessibility, deliver efficient customer service, and directly engage its current and prospective customers in genuine and responsive dialogue.
This major bank recognized that strong communication and addressing cultural issues was critical to successful integrations - fostering employee engagement, retaining high-performers, and reducing the time to integrate processes and technologies.
Real cooperation and collaboration between functions of this professional services required more than knowledge and even financial rewards. It required relationships - where employees knew and understood their colleagues working in other areas of the business.
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