Published in the Italian monthly Corriere Innovazione, the second edition of .trust examined 84 state- and family-owned companies and privately held food, fashion and luxury brands.
Each company’s ability to generate trust in stakeholders and to support the business through communications was assessed by examining their website, corporate social media channels, and related Wikipedia articles.
The evaluation measured them on two fundamental aspects: Substance (the key information needed to answer users’ questions about the business) and Distinctiveness (how users are engaged in digital channels). More details about the methodology here.
Having been conducted in the final phases of the first Italian lockdown, the study offers a unique perspective into the way the Covid-19 pandemic affected corporate communication strategies.
The country’s future depends greatly on how these companies handle the crisis.
– Joakim Lundquist
Key Findings: how do Italian companies stack up?
For this year’s edition of .trust for non-listed Italian companies, we began with a pool of 84 of Italy’s most important state- and privately-owned companies. These are companies that represent the lifeblood of the Italian economy, the most representative in terms of revenue, number of employees, and weight on the country’s system. Companies were evaluated on the basis of 2 pillars: Substance on the vertical axis, and Distinctiveness on the horizontal. Read more about the four .trust quadrants and overall research methodology
The first important result to take note of is that 42% of companies do not even communicate the bare minimum “substance” information and have therefore been classified as “On the Bench”. Only 49 companies were able to make it past the minimum substance threshold and were therefore also evaluated for their distinctiveness.
Of these, almost half (22 companies) fall into the “Traditionalists” category (bottom-left quadrant), which are the companies that just barely r passed the minimum threshold. What’s more, 11 companies are “Explainers” or companies that have valued substance over creating a distinctive approach to communications. Six companies did the exact opposite, prioritising form over facts, and landed themselves in the “Glitterati” quadrant.
Finally, 10 companies were able to strike a good balance between providing exhaustive information and the manner in which they presented it, and have therefore been classified as “Narrators”.
The best of the best
3 Emerging Trends
Covid-19 has undoubtedly accelerated the pace of trends that were already underway in the world of communications. While some companies might not have been aware of these trends before the crisis, many are now giving the full attention.
1. Accelerating change through social media
Empathy, dialogue, and a pinch of optimism: the perfect combination that many companies adopted to swiftly react to the crisis at hand. Social media, in fact, pushed companies into changing the way they communicate. AXA, Barilla, and Lavazza are examples of companies that shifted their tone into creating engaging stories on social media. Videos seem to have been the optimal medium to get the message across, along with podcasts which have become an especially popular means of corporate communications this year.
How many companies spoke of Covid on social media?
Some topics that were addressed:
Dompé: studies on molecules (escalate4cov and international collaborations)
Italcementi: production of respirator valves to support intensive care units
CDP: renegotiating loans for public administration
2. Prioritising business topics over commercial topics
Corporate websites have become unitary communication ecosystems that carry forth the company’s core message. In fact, 65% of companies demonstrated greater depth in the presentation of their vision and identity, and almost 70% dedicated significant space on their websites to their innovation and sustainability programmes, evermore connected to the core business.
3. The importance of a concrete medium-to-long-term strategy to face challenges
Taking into consideration all themes and communication channels that were analysed in the .trust research this year, companies that stood out the most for their ability to convey a clear and forward-looking strategy across the board were: CDP, Ferrovie dello Stato, GSE, Granarolo, SACE, and Sisal.
The role companies hold in society has changed because of Covid-19. Some companies with already strong underlying communications structures were able to communicate proactively, others reacted to the moment realising the indispensable need to forge more structured communications as a front to these new challenges.