By Sheila Horvath, Gazeta Mercantil
Communication is, today, undergoing a transformation everywhere in the world. The routes by which companies communicate with their target markets are changing ever faster. Communications with customers, consumers, suppliers, internal communications – all are affected. “Today there is a new integration model for company communications,” is the opinion of Mark Chataway, senior consultant at Baird’s Communications Management Consultants.
Chataway and senior consultant Francois Baird are appearing today at the 10th Corporate Communications Congress, being held in Sao Paulo. “Consultants” interest in communications is growing year by year. Companies have increased their expenditure on communications and cut back on their investment in advertising. And that is exactly where there is a huge business opportunity,” claimed Baird. According to Chataway, in the last year spending on traditional advertising was overshadowed by investment in the advisory area. “To give you an idea, the communications consulting area has come close to a trillion dollars,” said Baird.
That was the first time that expenditure on consulting had been higher than on advertising. This does not mean that advertising’s days are numbered so much as marking the beginning of an understanding that new tools are required. “Companies started to see the need for integration of communications,” said Baird.
It is up to the consultant to take a more macro view of a company’s communications strategy. He pursues his task in partnership with the marketing director and the product managers. “The objective is to translate the company’s business needs into communication strategies,” Chataway says. He explained that the various existing tools are used for this, such as advertising, direct marketing, customer and consumer relationships, and public relations. “What is important for companies is to see the importance of communication as a business strategy, as important as the finance or human resources departments within the company,” he continued.
Baird mentioned some results recorded for the communications sector between 1999 and 2004. “While advertising has shrunk 15%, consultancy has grown 30%,” he says. In the last year, US$ 790.6 bn was spent on communications consultancy. In the same year, US$ 454.8 bn was spent on advertising.
According to Baird, the existing communication methods used by global companies to reach their target publics in emerging countries no longer work. “Those companies need to perceive the changes taking place around the world. You can no longer look down your nose at emerging markets with an air of superiority, as used to be the case some years ago. You need to understand that the world has changed,” said Baird.
Chataway believes Brazil has vast growth potential and Brazilian companies can find room for the role of the communications consultant. “This approach is fundamental for companies looking to expand their business internationally,” he says.
In Brazil, Baird’s maintains a partnership with Fundamento, which operates in the strategic consulting sector, press services, public relations, internal communications and other communications areas.