Corporate communications in the last two decades has developed at a rapid pace. No longer limited to a photocopied newsletter featuring a man in a grey suit behind an oak desk, the modern tentacles of communication stretch deep into digital space and beyond.
In the post-fax years many organisations failed to adopt new technologies or adapt to changing trends. This failure has usually been costly, often even fatally so with established businesses crashing as a result of entrenched thinking.
Rentokil is a big, old company and a globally respected brand. It’s not the sexy, young and funky brand that you might expect to find at the bleeding edge of media trends and technology. But they are there. Ask Rentokil on twitter to identify something you found crawling beneath your cooker or how to get rid of moths and they will impart advice. Check out their Facebook page – pest control has never been so fascinating.
A few weeks ago I attended a Rentokil Initial investor’s day. Such events aren’t private but they are usually delivered to a hand picked delegation of analysts and key investors. Presentation slides are available on the website, accompanied by a podcast. Rentokil allowed a professional live-tweeter to amplify the event, effectively broadcasting the meeting to anyone in the world with access to twitter.
Editorial judgement, along with careful attention to financial and media law, were vital to getting the right information out of the event. Rentokil erred on the side of caution in their approach to their first live-tweeted investor meeting, partly to ensure executive buy-in. Clear guidelines were devised and adhered to and the flow of content was limited, with care not to share everything that was revealed in the room. It certainly wasn’t a free-for-all tweet-fest. However, such an approach is prudent when pioneering media techniques while dealing with sensitive content and data. Lessons learned from the experience will prove invaluable in covering similar events in the future.
Corporate blogging is now being recognised as a great way of adding personality and colour to your communications channels. They share useful information about an organisation with the world and help portray its personality to the world. Despite these advantages, selling blogging into organisations both large and small can prove challenging. Rentokil’s digital people faced such obstacles but they ploughed on and got their blogging program online – the gains in traffic then did the necessary convincing.
Living on any frontier can be exciting. However, some of that exhilaration comes as a result of the risks you are taking! Inevitably, some gambles won’t pay and Rentokil is not alone in having made a few mistakes on their journey. Their willingness to learn from mistakes and to always adapt their strategy accordingly shows how determined they are to get things absolutely right.
Written by Glenn Le Santo, journalist, social media guru and live event reporter.