Years ago, communication experts were most necessary in broadcast journalism, public relations, performing arts and similar industries. Today, however, these professionals occupy valuable roles in every type of business. In fact, a Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) survey of 600 employers revealed that many companies look for communication skills first in new hires. While basic written and verbal communication skills matter for every employee, today’s top companies need communication experts in their respective corners.
A Digital World Makes Human Connection Harder
As of 2021, data suggests that social media marketing (SMM) is one of the most effective marketing tools. While social media posts represent a form of connection, they’re nowhere near as powerful or as intimate as a conversation over the phone or during an in-person meeting. As businesses rely more on SMM and various other digital tools, they need communication experts to help them foster real connections with human beings.
Just because a business has 500,000 Twitter followers doesn’t mean that the company has a meaningful relationship with all those people. Students who earn master’s degrees in communication can help business owners tell compelling stories that bring them closer to their audience.
Communication Experts Help Executives Find Their Voice
Since many of today’s business leaders grew up in the digital world, they may not have developed sophisticated interpersonal skills. A C-level executive might have excellent forecasting abilities and an innate talent for leadership but lack refined communication prowess. A communication expert steps in and helps such professionals express themselves creatively and effectively.
Brand storytelling is one of the most powerful tools in a company’s arsenal. A business that can craft a compelling narrative around its core values, strategies and goals can gain a much stronger voice in its industry. A brand story is no different from a movie or novel. It employs characters, conflict and resolution to illustrate a company’s culture. Ideally, businesses should tell drawn-out stories that withhold information and leave consumers wanting more.
How Communication Experts Can Help Resolve Potential PR Crises
Businesses often need to shift their messaging strategy during times of crisis, because those that fail to do so risk doing harm to their brand. For example, in 2003, the city of Hong Kong launched a massive national and international tourism campaign with the slogan “Hong Kong will take your breath away.” When a highly contagious respiratory illness, later named severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), hit the city, marketing officials neglected to pause the campaign, and both the campaign and the city became an international punchline.
On the other hand, effective crisis communication can help brands overcome a variety of public relations (PR) disasters. For example, in 2016, after Samsung Galaxy Note7 cellphones began to randomly catch fire, Samsung’s communications team moved swiftly. Not only did Samsung voluntarily recall approximately 2.5 million phones, once airlines started to ban it, the company pulled the Galaxy Note7 from the market. From there, Samsung remotely locked all active units and sent texts to phone users instructing them to return their devices. The company’s swift action in removing the phone from the market not only allowed it to recover from a PR crisis but also revamp and relaunch their flagship cellular device.
Internal Communication Matters Just as Much as External Communication
Brand storytelling doesn’t just revolve around a company’s target consumers. Businesses must also communicate effectively with their staff, vendors and associates. If employees don’t understand the company’s mission, goals and values, they can’t relay those important qualities to the public.
Sean D. Williams, a communication expert who’s worked with many Fortune 500 companies, advises business owners to “write stories that matter to your employees, balancing the need for leadership to transmit information with the need for employees to have relevant content. Do research to discover what those stories should be, and do it often.” Williams goes on to say that companies should look inward during periods of financial struggle. Instead of laying off workers and tightening belts, they should focus their efforts on motivating staff and creating a brighter future.
A communication expert helps a company craft interesting and effective messages, both to the target market and to employees. Without such a professional on its side, a business risks communication failures that can turn off customers, irritate employees and damage its reputation.