When we conceived of .trust over two years ago, none of us could have imagined a crisis as profound as the one we are living through in 2020 and how this new scenario would underscore the importance of trust in the relationships that are the backbone of our societies and economies.
This year we conducted our research during the hiatus between the first and second waves in Europe, as countries picked themselves up after the initial lockdowns. This has allowed .trust to act as a lens through which to interpret the effects Covid-19 has had on corporate communication strategies and how companies acted to maintain trust.
What we’ve seen is that concrete facts and the way companies reacted in practice spoke volumes about their ability to generate trust, while it became much easier for everyone to see through stock statements and hollow gestures.
Today, in the face of an ever more uncertain future, each country’s ability to prevail will be strongly dictated by how companies respond to the crisis. Businesses, therefore, need to be proactive in having a voice, showing they are resilient in the face of a constantly evolving environment, and contributing concretely to the construction of a new future.
In the words of Philip Kotler, the so-called father of modern marketing and professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University: “Today, it’s not about what you say, but what you do.”
What does this mean for companies and how they communicate?
The crisis brought about by Covid-19 has created a rift with traditional approaches to communication. Concrete answers are needed to overcome today’s challenges as well as a proactive attitude that focuses on the role companies intend to play towards the sustainable development of the societies in which they operate.
The radical shift in the scenario brought about by the Covid-19 crisis was not a bolt from the blue. There is no doubt that the pandemic accelerated a series of trends that were already underway, perhaps remaining below the radar for many: the new normality favours those who can express a clear vision of their business transformation, articulate the complementary roles of sustainability and innovation, and engage multiple stakeholder categories through authentic and direct dialogue. Some companies made sure they were prepared for this kind of a situation, for others it has been a wake-up call.
What’s emerged in the second edition of .trust (Italian listed companies)
The pandemic has pushed corporate communications towards the definition of a stronger identity and to situate real-time reactions to unfolding events as part of longer-term strategies and wider set of values. In the 2nd edition of our research on Italian listed companies, we identified five key assets that drive successful communications, underpin credibility in the business and help in providing tangible examples of actions as evidence of a commitment to rewriting our new normal:
- A purpose statement that really works to provide a guiding “line of sight” to all communications
- A forward-looking business strategy
- Sustainability as a concrete commitment to a better future
- Innovation at the heart of business transformation
- Leadership with a clear voice and human touch
At the same time, companies have been forced to be faster and bolder in using digital channels. Many have chosen direct and conversational language to get their message across. Real dialogue can be found in companies that are authentic and unfiltered, and that adjust their tone to suit their given public and channel.
Videos have proven popular as a format offering a more emotional and personal tone, especially in support of social media campaigns. But the new tool for 2020 has been podcasting, with a number of companies successfully adopting this medium as a way to offer a useful service to their audience and establish a new kind of relationship.
.trust as a guide to the new normal
With .trust we have created a research programme perfectly suited to interpreting these shifting times but also a practical tool to guide companies in navigating new communication challenges, a playbook for generating trust with stakeholders that brings together emerging trends, future strategy and digital communications. Discover more about how we can help you.