Communication is power, and like any power – how you use it matters!
The power of communication however, does not come easily. It requires consistency, a commitment to be transparent, speak your views (even if not popular), and be genuine.
If done well, it shines a light on issues, brings people together and helps them connect with who you are, your values, and the services and products you offer. If done poorly (or not at all), you become lost in the noise, disconnected, or worse still – on the wrong side of the news.
This has been a lesson HERA has been learning for the past five years. We have become braver with our communications, embraced social media, increased our public relations work and delved into new mediums of communication such as our podcast and videography to better position our members and the industry sectors they work in.
It has been a journey that has paid off.
We have grown our reach, improved our market position and awareness, re-established and strengthened relationships, and the cherry on the cake… we were recently one of six finalists in the ‘not for profit’ global SABRE Awards category for our communication efforts around sustainability, innovation and diversity for the steel industry (no easy feat given there were 2000 global entries!).
We are stedfast in the belief that every organisation needs to be a communicating organisation, and as an industry it is becoming increasingly important that we are.
Not convinced? Here are three things to help you re-frame your communications approach.
The world is digital
You’d have to be living under a rock not to have noticed that the world has gone incredibly digital. Covid-19 pushed this in to overdrive – gone were face to face meetings, catch ups on the worksites and networking sessions. Winning work came down to leveraging existing relationships and building a digital communications strategy to create new ones.
HERA has been on a path for some time to embrace digital communications. We have been test bedding a range of social channels and digital platforms to talk to our key stakeholders. When we first started, it felt like we were talking to crickets, but time has allowed us to find our voice, work out our key messages and grow our reach.
For HERA, Twitter connects us to Government, Ministers and media, Facebook to students, universities and most of our industry (who have adopted some social media presence), LinkedIn to professional networks, expertise and collaborations, Instagram to visually inspired metal heads and consultancy based entities such as specifiers and our podcast to our time poor members and international networks.
We hear a lot from our members that they don’t have time to spend on these platforms, but the danger is missing out on talking to audiences you might not ever be easily able to reach.
Who have you been missing out on talking to?
You are what you say!
For the most part, our industry is comfortable with saying very little. We stick to the notion that our great work does the talking for us!
Unfortunately, today’s consumers and workers want to understand more about the businesses that they work with and for. We have to get better at sharing our work we do, the innovations we make and the values we hold if we are to attract and retain clients and employees.
We have many examples where not weighing in on a conversation hasn’t helped our cause, for example traction with our sustainability credentials in comparison to that of timber. The timber industry has done a fantastic story of telling their heart story, sharing their values and their sustainability credentials on a consistent basis across all timber businesses.
HERA has been working hard to ramp up media coverage and public relations works that more strongly advocate for our industry and our sustainability and innovation credentials. It is a core focus of ours to connect and inspire, and support our industry – but we can’t do it successfully on our own.
Are you doing your part to amplify these communications more widely?
A disconnect between the doing and the saying
There is a lot of noise out there. Focused communications is important so that you are talking about the things that align the most with your values and key strategic focuses.
For time poor or resource poor businesses, this should be music to your ears. You don’t have to have an opinion on everything, be on every platform, and spend hours creating content – but you do have to communicate what matters, and consistently.
HERA has really focused in on the conversation around Industry 4.0, innovation, sustainability and diversity. This aligns with our strategic focuses and our company values.
Often, these view points are controversial – but if we are doing this work, we have to be brave to share it, and have our actions align to what we are saying. In other words, we can’t for example say we want more women in engineering, and then not create a workplace that would invite them, mechanisms or quotas that can make that happen and communication that champions this view point.
There are probably quite a few members who when they do speak, the messaging is mis-matched with their actions. This is where things can go wrong and we have bad experiences that position us poorly. So, for those organisations who are flexing their communications muscle, we suggest stepping back and making sure that what you are saying is backed up by your actions. If not, perhaps rethink your focus – no one connects with a ‘tick box’ organisation.
Does your communications strategy need a re-jig?
Make communications a priority
If you had of told HERA five years ago that we would be nominated as one of six finalists out of 2000 global entries for an award around our communications in sustainability, innovation and diversity in the steel industry we wouldn’t have believed you – but that is the power of consistent messaging and being unafraid to share your thought leadership beyond your four walls!
We are also wanting our members to start thinking about their communications as more than a ‘nice to have’ but an ‘integral to have’. To help, we have developed Pūtātara, our communications studio which is focused on developing strategy plans for our members to assist them in their journey to be better with sharing their story, as well as wrap around services to get this communications plan underway.
If this sounds of interest, please get in touch with our Innovation and Transformation Architect, Greg Buckley to have a chat today.
We’d like to give a special acknowledgement to the team at Alexander PR. They have been the perfect partners to help HERA re-imagine our communications and amplify our voice – we wouldn’t have been an award finalist without them behind us.