Understanding promotes Conversation

In 1998 the mobile company Orange launched a large-scale campaign with the subject “Conversation promotes Understanding”. The campaign created much attention on account of the angle and creativity; however, in 2004 the company had to realize that no surplus could be made in Denmark and thus in the same year it was sold to Telia (another mobile company). Critics of the company claimed the reason to be that the campaign was too complicated. Or in another way: the consumers had difficulties in understanding the message of digging down their fixed net phones in the garden and instead changing to Orange, as this solution was much more expensive. Was Orange ahead of its time or did they not understand this rational thinking of the consumers?

Lack of understanding in communication
If the receiver does not understand the message; there is no communication.

At best it is a matter of failing communication which does not improve the matter. Failing communication is not a new fact; but can be seen each day in the media and with consequences as a bad reputation and lost amounts on marketing. The new aspect is that the risk of considerable consequences will be doubled by the massive influence of the mass media on the public opinion locally, nationally and globally. Of course the solution is not to stop communicating by fear of being misunderstood.

On the contrary the solution is a better understanding of your target group before the beginning of your communication. However, being the one sending campaigns, you do not always understand this aspect.

You are not always what you say
The main problem of the failing communication is often due to several reasons. On the one hand, the necessary time and resources have not been invested in understanding the context of the target group. On the other hand, not all companies are critical enough concerning their communication to the consumers and the way they act.

Beautiful pictures are of no value if the picture on the other side is another one. Or in another way: “If the message of the management is not equal to the values of the company and the attitude of the employees, the understanding and the conversation is not promoted.” Thus the communication must reflect a realistic image of the company, i.e. the activities, products, services etc. must compare well to the words said and promised. If not – here we go again.

Understanding is not for free
Who is responsible for what is said – and whether it is correct and understood by readers and consumers?
Is it the companies, the advertising or PR agencies who develop the communication? Some will claim the agencies, others the companies.
One reply is: if the agencies choose to solve the communication task without taking their time and demanding enough financial resources for creating the correct understanding internally and externally, then the agencies are responsible if the communication task fails. If they agree to solve the task on an incomplete basis, we are not talking about professionalism; on the contrary. And on the other hand it is a very unprofessional way of acting, if the agencies demand the communication of the company to be developed without sufficient clarity and extern understanding. In other words, the agencies really have an important communicative task concerning the companies, and the companies have a task of creating insight before demanding anybody to look out. It takes time – and is not for free; however, it is well worth.

Will the social media create a new understanding?
It seems so, and it is not only a matter of risk management in the social media. It is also a matter of avoiding to be misunderstood.
It is a matter of understanding your customers better and being responsible for your company and your communicating role. You have to have employees dedicated for being followers of all that is written about their company in the social media. And this conversation is now at management level, as the managers have realized that consumers are a powerful and unpredictable group with one big common room of conversation in which good as well as bad experience is shared.

Maybe the social media will create a new and better communication which is understandable and in accordance with what you actually say and do, and finally this will promote the good conversation between companies and consumers. .