A view from Alex Malouf: Where are all the brave communicators?

As new channels and new needs for information have emerged from the coronavirus crisis, what has the communications industry done to help its stakeholders, asks Schneider Electric’s Alex Malouf.

By Alex Malouf corporate communications director MEA at Schneider Electric.

Bravery is such a wonderful notion. In one part, it’s defined as the ability to face danger and endure pain. On the other, it’s all about the idea of doing something unusual and taking a risk. For me, 2020 (and 2021) can be best defined by the former, by our need to endure over and over again as we face one crisis after another.

But I’ve kept asking myself about the need to take risks. As communicators, what have we done to do things differently? As everything around us changes, have we also embraced the opportunity for change? Do we truly understand what our stakeholders are going through and have we tried new concepts and ideas to improve how we engage with others?

I’ll give a simple example of this. Let’s look at audio. None of us would deny the importance of audio when it comes to communications. In the digital world, audio has been around for decades (the first podcasts date back to the 1980s). And over the past year, we’ve seen new formats and platforms, such as Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces. Others see the opportunity in this space, including Spotify and Facebook.

This all sounds wonderful, but where are the communicators, I ask myself? How are we using these new channels to engage? Given we’re a region with such a rich oral-based storytelling tradition, you’d think it’d be a given for people to communicate this way. But all I seem to be hearing is silence.

And then there are the basics; think of a single source of truth during a crisis such as a website. It’s remarkable how few organizations have set this up, both for their people and for their external audiences. Instead, we have to trawl through a myriad of social media sites to understand what’s going on.

I love being a communicator. It allows me to be creative and engaging. And it gives me the opportunity to make an impact for the better in people’s lives. And I experiment. Some ideas work out, some don’t. But this is what’s exciting, the constant need to change and dip your toes in the water to understand if there’s a better way to help others understand a message or get a conversation started. And that’s why my favourite communicators are those who are brave and who push for new ideas.

To end this note, I’d like to ask each and every one of you to share one brave thing you’ve done recently. Tell me what you’ve done that’s different, that’s new, and that makes a difference. I’d love to hear your stories of bravery.