Stakeholder and customer expectations have changed drastically in recent times, putting much pressure on businesses and brands to actively engage and communicate. It is now an expectation from stakeholders that businesses must operate with more accountability to the planet and people, besides making profits. This is not just true of regulators and investors, but also of customers and employees. On top of this, businesses and brands are also faced with a marketplace and communications landscape that has changed tremendously. Effective stakeholder engagement is shifting from information broadcasting to story co-creation. These are real challenges that impact businesses and brands today.
A New Narrative Anchored on Purpose – The WHY
The new “rewired” economy requires businesses and brands to have a new narrative to win the trust of stakeholders and build customer loyalty. Consumers and stakeholders are now consuming content with an expectation that goes beyond listening and understanding – they expect to have a stake and say in the news and sharing process. Of course, on condition that the content is meaningful and relevant to them.
Looking at this paradigm shift, we can clearly see that brands and businesses that clearly communicate their PURPOSE or “WHY”, have a much better chance of winning over their audiences’ trust and loyalty. An authentic purpose-driven narrative is certainly the game changer today. Businesses and brands must communicate beyond the functional and obvious. As pointed out by Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, organisations that truly succeed must answer their WHY and this must be about purpose, cause or belief.
It is certainly imperative for us to communicate and share our purpose-driven journey with our stakeholders and customers. After all, PURPOSE is now perceived as the new ‘product’ of the marketplace; the GREEN movement is akin to the digital wave we once raved about years ago; and SUSTAINABILITY is now the new ‘profitable’ that dominates boardroom discussions. In fact, we can see how the financial and capital community is now scrutinising sustainability indicators as part of their investment evaluation process.
As such, to elevate our brand and reputation, and enable our stakeholders and customers to be a part of our storytelling journey, it is important for us to build a narrative that is anchored on our PURPOSE or WHY. This is key to bringing our stakeholders along in our journey to share our vision and business goals.
Sustainability and ESG as the Enabler – The WHAT and HOW
With the green movement and changing stakeholder expectation, it is timely to create a purpose-driven narrative that is centred around Sustainability. Climate change, diversity and inclusion as well as other Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) indicators impact each and every one of our stakeholders. It engages stakeholders through relatable subject matters, involving the relationship between brands and the people (your stakeholders), our planet (collective ownership) and even profits (sustainable wealth creation). Indeed, SUSTAINABILITY as the new “profitability” presents a very strong thought leadership platform for our brand and corporate narrative.
Many companies and brands have prioritised ESG within the purpose framework of their organisations’ reforms and reinvention plans for growth. Indeed, ESG criteria fit right into this narrative as it provides a framework for us to measure our sustainability efforts. It is also relatable and relevant for stakeholders.
In other words, PURPOSE gives us the true north (the WHY) to anchor our narrative, and ESG provides a framework of WHAT and HOW we are delivering on our purpose. This will give us facts, figures and other measurable initiatives or deliverables as part of our communication and engagement with stakeholders. ESG is not just about compliance. It is truly the enabler for us to communicate our purpose.
Good to Great
Without a doubt, Sustainability and ESG frameworks are the vehicles that enable our purpose-driven narrative to be communicated. They can help us share our story of how we are taking tangible steps from where are now to where we want to be – a GOOD to GREAT story that gives room for your audience to be a part of it. This is crucial to winning in the marketplace since stakeholders, including customers, are now an integral part of the conversation in the marketplace.
Many perceive branding to be about logos, taglines and promoted narratives. In the age of the empowered consumer, with easily accessible information, your brand is no longer what you say it is.
At its core, PR is all about reputation management with stakeholders. People and brands rightly expect PR professionals to help them connect with important stakeholders, build meaningful relationships and effectively communicate the right messages to them.
“There is no better time to come into the industry than right now” Telum recently caught up with Andy See, Founder and Managing Director of Perspective Strategies who shared his experience founding Perspective Strategies in 2006 and growing it to a firm of 15 consultants, founding the Communications Leadership Academy and its merger with Life Redesigned, and why he thinks there is no better time to embark on a career in comms.