Behind the Headlines With Shannon Bell
If different teams in your organization are all creating content with different messages, you’re probably confusing your audience and missing out on valuable opportunities.
Shannon Bell of The Orogen Group says aligning your communication strategy across departments is key to your success.
In this interview, Shannon discusses why financial brands are still working to build trust, why you can never be too prepared for all communication scenarios and why your brand’s content needs to break through the noise and resonate with your audience.
What will you be doing in your new role at The Orogen Group?
The Orogen Group is a new company created by Vikram Pandit and Atairos Group that will make control and other strategic investments in financial services companies and related businesses.
While I am currently in charge of everything from operations to finance, my main focus will be providing communications and strategic counsel to the companies we invest in and to our CEO.
What is the biggest communication challenge facing financial brands today?
In a word: trust. The banks are still working to rebuild the trust lost during the financial crisis as they face a competitive threat from newer market entrants. And the newer companies that have entered the market since the crisis are working to establish trust as they navigate the economic cycle and the changing regulatory landscape.
What are some of the key components of a successful corporate communication strategy?
Alignment and consistency are the most important components of any successful communication strategy. The communication strategy must align with the business strategy in order for both to be successful. And the messaging must be consistent across all of a company’s channels – from marketing to community to media to client to investor audiences.
What are some of the biggest mistakes brands make in their communication?
See question three. The biggest mistakes I’ve had to help clean up resulted from not being prepared for how an issue or announcement would resonate with a stakeholder group or, worse, with more than one stakeholder group. Therefore, I’ve adopted the view that there is no such thing as over-preparation when it comes to putting together a communication strategy.
What role does social media play in your job?
That remains to be seen but whether it’s a large or small role, it cannot be ignored. Someone once said to me that while social media is an echo chamber, you must be part of the chamber before you need to be part of the chamber.
How has digital transformed corporate communication?
Communication has changed dramatically over the last decade as a result of new technology and social media. Social and owned media empowers everyone to create their own digital magazines and personal brands. It also gives companies more ways to communicate with their stakeholders than ever before.
Because these channels are so important, it also means that companies are now in the business of content creation – no matter what industry they’re in. That makes it even more necessary – and challenging – to create content that breaks through the noise and resonates with your target audience.
Do you have any advice for those looking to begin a career in communication?
Work on a political campaign. Communication is about a lot of things but essentially it’s about delivering a message – often a complex or nuanced message. This is essentially what a campaign is – turning a person into a message, and it’s often nuanced and complex.
Plus, campaigns are always looking for cheap (or free) labor, and the experience and contacts you make on a campaign will be invaluable over your career.
Rapid Fire Round
1. My hobbies outside of work include…anything I can do with my seven-year-old son.
2. If I won the lottery, I would…sock some away, give some away and do at least one frivolous thing with the rest.
3. I laugh most at…my friends (and my own jokes).
4. My hidden talent is…baking – well, not really, but I do make a great banana bread.
5. My biggest pet peeve is…voicemail.
6. One thing most people don’t know about me is…I have four sisters, and I give them credit for keeping me honest.
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