Lundquist’s new research assessing communications for business leadership
Trust “is the fundamental basis of business,” American banker J.P. Morgan asserted just over a century ago. Even today, trust is a universal currency that underpins transactions, business relationships and reputation. If it is to provide strategic support to the business, communications must engender, enhance and protect trust.
To someone like J.P. Morgan a century or so ago, personal connections and character were critical. Fast forward to our hyper-connected age, however, and we find that the real-time glare of social media is forcing business to get personal, project a human face and depend on the trust people place in its “character”.
What does this mean for anyone who cares about strategic communications? That’s a question we’ve asked ourselves as we crafted a new research project that aspires to capture the importance of communications for the competitiveness of the business, how it supports transformation and innovation processes that are the essence of leadership today.
We’ve baptised that new research .trust: the “dot” in the name represents the digital ecosystem that provides a window through which we can get to know and engage with a company. In a similar logic, we’ve re-named our CSR Online Awards research, which has assessed sustainability communications since 2008, as .future: the focus here is on how a company conveys the concrete contribution it is making today towards our future challenges.
We’re convinced that there are two sides to effective communications:
- SUBSTANCETransparency and disclosure of relevant information are the primary functions of corporate communications and they cannot be relegated to dry, formal reports aimed at regulatory compliance and expert audiences (progress made in the 10 years since the financial is mixed, at best). Substance is the bedrock without which trust will crumble. It’s critical, but isn’t everything.
- DISTINCTIVENESSThis is the ability to actively engage audiences with an authentic, relevant and future-oriented narrative about what the business is trying to achieve.. Think of it as projecting the “character” we mentioned above: How do you come across? What plans do you have for the future? How credible are you in achieving the goals you set yourself?
Our aim with this new research is to guide companies in understanding how to position themselves through the complex interaction of these two dimensions. We’ve accompanied the research with the image of a multi-coloured braid because it shows how trust is woven together from diverse elements in an unending process.
For now, we’re launching the inaugural edition of .trust focused on state, private and family-owned companies in three markets (Italy, Switzerland and Austria). In 2019 we plan to extend the research to listed companies and a wider geography.