Reputation is achieved through facts and excellence relating to audiences
Updated: Jun 7, 2022
Article published in La Estrella Panama
By: Catalina Jiménez - Director & Founder, Sentidos Comunicaciones
For the director and founder of the international public relations agency, Sentidos Comunicaciones, strengthening the bond with audiences from authenticity is the way to build a solid reputation. In addition, the pandemic demonstrated the need to humanize communications in a highly digitized market.
Catalina Jiménez operates the agency with clients in Latin America, from Colombia, and has more than 20 years of experience in the field.
Catalina Jiménez, director and founder of Sentidos Comunicaciones, an international public relations agency with an impact in Latin America, talks about the opportunities that the new market has drawn for the art of communication with brands, the humanization of the message, and the value of building a solid reputation. For the executive who leads the communications strategy of companies specializing in technology, information security, innovation, fintech, startups, and female empowerment, in a world of hyperconnectivity and hyperdigitalization “if one brand is not present, another will do it for it even impersonating it and generating false news. We must not leave that gap, it is important to be there ”, it is also necessary to promote new meetings and conversations from the opening to innovating.
It is estimated that the drop in profits in sectors such as advertising, marketing and communication has been 6.4% during the pandemic, which represents one of the worst crises in the media industry in recent years, do you agree with this figure?
Of course, especially in the media, the impact has been gigantic in terms of reorganizing the team, reinventing and understanding how with the resources that we have, one can advance or go backwards, due to the same digitization that has been experienced in this industry and all others. I think that although I agree with this figure, there are also great opportunities that allow opening other spaces, for example, this type of interviews that, although previously were given in print and digitally, are now being renewed by having an audiovisual space which allows generating a conversation with other audiences. In the case of Sentidos Comunicaciones, what has happened is that companies realized the need for communications; I can tell you that it was atypical, and in the last two years we have grown by 70% -75%. The figure is a reality in the industry, but I think there is a huge field of opportunity, of reinvention, of being able to speak in other formats, of understanding how to take advantage of this digitization, how to open the conversation to other audiences that are now joining the social networks and who want you to talk to them in a more entertaining, faster, lighter way; that the in-depth studies that were done for smaller audiences and how you convert these in-depth studies into figures faster than another audience can consume. So, yes it is a reality, but an opportunity opens up for a different growth taking advantage of the industry from another angle.
How has the customer support process been during the pandemic crisis and how have the needs of the market they serve been transformed?
The changes have been enormous and for us they have been very positive. As a public relations agency we were important to our clients, but not a priority; the whole crisis started and we strengthened the team. Since April of last year we started a super strong work to show our teeth that we need to speak in another way, that we need to be empathetic and tell the target audience that we are going through the same thing. We understand that the conversation continues, but it must continue from another angle, because digitization precisely requires that closeness to achieve links. The other thing that happened was that suddenly our communication follow-up meetings were not led only by the communications director or by the marketing director, but by CEOs, vice presidents and people who previously did not join. Thus we began to have meetings that became much richer, more strategic, and to think about how this narrative had to change not only to retain and continue with that audience. It is up to us to give importance to our work and show it to those who - because they do not live it or because it is not their world - do not understand that communications are not something we can eliminate; they build society, they build opinion, they open the conversation to be able to grow; It is what we have managed to see and strengthen in that time.
The postcovid scene has been totally disruptive. And for communication agencies it is becoming increasingly necessary to appeal to authenticity to generate "engagement" and to have authentic spokespersons, with real, rooted and vocational opinions. How to face this great challenge?
Brand ambassadors have been talked about for some time now; people who have so much faith and so much belief in the company they work for and represent that they become unofficial spokespersons and allow a conversation to be generated in other settings. From communication, what happened this season and what always happens in a moment of crisis is that it must become more liquid, a communication that permeates in a different way, that can transcend, almost go through the cracks. To achieve this communication, you have to innovate; not to remain in the only permanent means that have always been had or the only forms that have always been known. These ambassadors that I am telling you, these people who work in the company, become absolutely suitable because from their authenticity they can work to strengthen the brand in different audiences. On the other hand, the leaders of the organizations are much more convinced of the importance of communications, of staying current to have an impact as spokespersons much more capable of understanding that what they are doing is talking to another human being. When I speak as a spokesperson I do not speak as brand x; Of course, I speak as brand x, but I am Catalina talking to Yandira, and behind Catalina and Yandira the public of La Estrella de Panamá is watching us, they are people. When we humanize communication and understand that you and I are the same as those who are watching us, it becomes an incredible scenario. And what happened to the covid and the post-covid? As few times in the history of humanity, it placed us anywhere in the universe in the same conversation, and that in the end brings some very interesting things in communications, because from all the places talked or they talk to you about covid, postcovid, the vaccine, the non-vaccine, you have a unique conversation. In the end it humanized us. I tell you as a woman that an incredible thing that ended up happening at this time is that - I feel - with the covid we will be able to stop apologizing because the child sounds behind or because there is a noise, because the parents have already experienced it, the moms, the grannies, the uncle who helped, everyone had to connect in the same way. So to summarize the question you asked me about how to achieve that ?: humanizing communication, understanding that we are human beings, and that Catalina speaks to you, Yandira, and what behind are Pedro, Juan, Luis, Camila, human beings.
Today many entrepreneurs want to gain notoriety in the digital world. What are the keys at the communicational level?
You mentioned one that seems key to me and that is authenticity. The public is more and more awake and people know what is true and what is not. It is very important that what we communicate is really happening, that there is congruence between what is lived within the organization and what is communicated; between what is felt and what is said. Authenticity and the reality of what is happening is super important. Number two, be present in the media and on the networks, have a permanent presence in front of their different audiences. In a hyperconnected world, hyperdigitalized and with all this presence, if one brand does not appear, another will do it for it, even supplanting it and generating false news. You do not have to leave that hole, it is important to be there. A third key that I would highlight, Yandira, and that also summarizes everything that I have been talking about before is to be empathetic; sometimes humanizing the conversation is left behind. When you as a human being have empathy and manage to understand that beyond transmitting a message you are building a relationship, be it with the journalist, with the medium in general, with your client, with the buyer or the user, relationships are generated with people who make a difference.
The pandemic has also been a goodbye to conventional events as we have understood them so far. In this sense, the ability to generate a good show 'online' has come to the fore. Does this translate into greater or lesser proximity to the target audiences or audiences?
I think that when they are very big events it translates into a lesser approach, unless you really make the effort of a digital show in which the QR code is downloaded, the gift that the house arrives is included; In other words, a number of additional efforts must be made to generate that closeness. What I recommend to continue maintaining the link is to generate events that are smaller, in which conversation is allowed, that even if you are in a digital place, the conversation continues and we can continue to mention the 10 or 15 people who are in the meeting and they can raise their hands to ask their questions, feel close. On the other hand, there is something important that has happened in this change, Yandira, if you allow me to add it to this answer, and it is that although before doing the event you had to wait for the very high profile, let's say, for an event in Mexico, to travel to Mexico, and you will convene in Mexico, and they will all be there ... what has happened now, and that is a fascinating thing, is that the very high profile even if it is in Dubai, can dictate the talk for those from Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, and in the end the conversation becomes a regional one that generates other things and that allow you, as we have experienced it, to generate more closeness events, with a greater periodicity, than to wait for a gigantic annual event. So yes, you have to generate them and handle the gigantic events that generate closeness, but you have to put the whole show on them; or with the little ones, find a way to think about how to talk with Yandira, Pedro, Juan, with each of the members who may be in that meeting.
How, in this moment of crisis, does reputation allow us to have a better relationship with the client?
When one describes roughly what public relations is about, in the end it is all those strategies that a brand generates to get closer and generate mutual benefit with all its audiences. When this happens, the reputation of an organization goes up; When what is communicated generates a consistent and mutually beneficial conversation, the reputation of the brand rises and the public wants that brand, what does that generate? that if there is a moment of crisis or a fall comes, the same audience, the same public is in solidarity with the brand and does not go against it; the same public even generates alliances to search, rescue and take care of the brand. One experienced it in the region, in the case of airlines, for example, which had some followers and others said “help me”; But in the end there was a movement of "let's save", because a high reputation was generated and this is only generated through facts and a high relationship with the audiences.
In 2020, the CEO of 'The New York Times', Mark Thompson, spoke of the challenges of journalism and communication in the pandemic and said that in this scenario it is impossible to predict, due to its level of complexity. What are your comments on this?
I agree, predicting is impossible, but I believe that in today's world you have to be open to change and understand that change is the only thing that is true and constant, and that we have to learn to navigate it. As we talked about at the beginning, if we are able to open the range and understand that if our clients have needs, but we are not able to tell them how we are going to meet those needs, it is possible that we become irrelevant. The way to remain relevant is to join the change, not be afraid, navigate it and understand that in all those figures that show a drop, there is always a percentage of opportunity and a new door that can be opened to work.
"The way to remain relevant is to join the change, not be afraid, navigate it and understand that in all those figures that show a drop, there is always a percentage of opportunity and a new door that can be opened to work"