AB Thinks  →  27th October 2021

How to create comms with purpose

In Episode 52 of The Internal Comms Podcast, Katie Macaulay caught up with Maliha Aqeel, Director of Global Communications and Digital Channels at Fix Network World – the global leader in the automotive aftermarket services sector.

A member of the International Association of Business Communicators’ International Executive Board, Maliha has honed her expertise at organisations across the globe, from Dubai to Canada.

A life-long learner, Maliha is always striving to understand more of the ‘business of business’ in order to apply that learning to a communications framework. Soon to begin a doctorate, Maliha is researching how organisations can activate and communicate the tangible impact of purpose on their balance sheet.

Here are five key takeaways from the fascinating conversation.

#1 If your company doesn’t have an impact on society, it’s not really purpose-driven
‘Purpose’ is the reason why a brand exists beyond making money. Purpose is often being used to talk about the mission and vision, but these things are often tied to the business model: where a company hopes to be. Purpose is intangible – it’s a higher goal. It can be hard for companies to define unless they can really answer the question: ‘Why are we here, and what is the impact we hope to make in society?’

#2 There are four A’s of purpose-driven content
Accountability is about demonstrating impact through metrics. It’s about understanding the values of your customers, your employees and being able to show to your stakeholders that you’ve met those metrics and can deliver.

Authenticity is about your brand voice: making sure everything you say and do is aligned to the values you are known for. Don’t take part in a conversation because it’s a popular ting to do. Take part in conversations that align to the values of your brand.

Action is more tactical, in terms of the content you create that tells the brand story. Make sure the brand story is cohesive across all the different touch points, so that you have a cohesive customer journey.

Advocacy is about making advocates of your customers so that they are the ones talking about your brand and your brand values to others. Doing the first three well facilitates and creates advocacy.

#3 Remember: comms platforms are not for the comms professional
Often we forget that all the available comms platforms and channels are not for the comms or marketing professional, or even the executive. They are for our end stakeholders, whether they’re customers or employees. It’s about what they want and how they want to engage with the brand. If you’re willing to engage with them in the way they want, you have the makings of a successful brand.

#4 Work with your procurement team, your IT team, and every other team
All successful comms should come from a partnership with another department. If comms or marketing try to do everything themselves, they’ll inevitably miss out on things that could bring value to the organisation. We can’t have a complete understanding of every single thing happening in an organisation, and we’re not expected to. But if you don’t forge those key partnerships, you miss out. You’re not thinking about the organisation as a whole, but rather about your particular need.

#5 If you want to succeed long-term, being purpose-driven is vital
Consumers, especially millennials and Generation Z, expect transparency from brands. And they’re not afraid to hold companies to account. If companies don’t catch up with the worldview of the generations coming up, they’ll discover they’re not relevant to the conversations. There will be new business models emerging that meet the needs of the new generation, and existing brands must evolve to remain relevant. Having a perfectly acceptable product or service is not enough – you have to demonstrate a benefit to society.