This week, Elon Musk revealed that all press enquiries sent to the company's press email, [email protected], would now receive an auto response of a poop emoji. This comes after reports that the social media company axed the entirety of its public relations staff in the company's multiple rounds of layoffs over the last few months. Since it's layoffs, emails to the company's press team have gone unanswered for months.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE also understands that in Southeast Asia, much of the communications team in Southeast Asia are also no longer with the company.
Over the week, publications including MARKETING-INTERACTIVE tested Musk's claims and found it to be true as a poop emoji slid smoothly into our inboxes upon clicking send.
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However, it certainly made us wonder, can brands really afford to not have a communications team in this day and age and could it actually work in a brand's favor to not have one? The answer it would seem lies in how traditional a brand is.
Obviously coming from the journalism background, we're a little biased and know communications teams are key to building up brands in today's day and age. So, we turned to business owners, consultants and recruitment specialists to hear their views.
"While it's true that brands these days cannot afford to not have a comms team. But the question may be if they really need a specific team in place because comms teams are typically seen as facilitators," said Jeffrey Seah, a partner at Quest Ventures. Quest Ventures is a venture capital firm that provides funding and acceleration to a myriad of startups across Asia. He noted that many metaverse-related companies and digital firms, CEOs end up double hatting as the comms folks and typically do away with the need for a communications team. The same can often be said within the start-up community as well.
"Communications is like fast fashion. Every day, there are different messages to get out and so new age brands tend to have a more interesting way of handling their comms in that they don't always follow a very traditional regimental way of doing things," Seah said. Often many brands in this space simply see engagement with the public and talkability as a good way of gauging if their communications strategy is doing alright.
However, marketing consultants MARKETING-INTERACTIVE spoke to seem to believe that a dedicated comms team is vital for a brand, or they can risk losing oversight of its narrative - which let's face it, can be costly. Shufen Goh, the co-founder and principal of R3, which helps many large corporations around the world find their right agency partners said that a large part of brand communications involves strategic messaging and being able to use language to communicate a brand's positioning.
"This has become more important in the marketing mix as ESG and social issues exert greater impact on brand loyalty," she said. She continued by saying that the virality of social media and digital news has also elevated the importance of having internal brand communications in that what is being said on public forums can affect local consumer sentiments.
Agreeing with her, Dhirendra Shantilal, a strategic advisor at HR and recruitment firm FSG TG Group who said that it is important that a brand has a communications team because they have both an internal and external audience to think about. "In order to attract the best talent to join a company, they need to maintain a positive brand image. Employees join companies because they believe in the brand and what they stand for. So having a comms team is critical in that mission," he said.
Of course, with how big Twitter is as a company, maintaining a positive brand image in order to attract the right talent may not be its biggest concern. However, according to Shantilal, it does not matter if it’s a large or small company. While some potential employees don't care about branding if they can earn more, generally, these days, candidates are more decerning and won't want to join companies who hire and fire emplyees.
These days, with social media the word gets out fast and the brand is impacted. So, it becomes imperative for companies to have a positive branding image especially if they want to attract good talent. Employees are brand ambassadors of their company.
Shantilal continued by saying that on the other hand, companies have a responsibility to project a positive image of its company and that they need to relate a story about what they stand for which is what a comms team will help them do. He noted that entrepreneurs are not good at articulating the value their brand creates and this is why a comms team is vital no matter what your business does.
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