The tango of macro and micro trends in the midst of a revolving crisis

Not so long ago we used to quote the brilliant aphorism that crisis is actually an opportunity.

Not so long ago we used to quote the brilliant aphorism that crisis is actually an opportunity. Today, the outdated Eastern maxim is still valid to some extent, but the world is very different – a place where crises are an everyday occurrence, far from something extraordinary. They are already quite normal and occur several times a day. 

The great world crises, like particles of a broken glass, multiply into countless small, insignificant and not so terrible crises – but they also expect prevention first, and then a possible solution. And the task relentlessly rests on the shoulders of communication specialists. The good news is that communication agencies and their clients (companies and brands) are radically rethinking their roles. It all resembles a tango “union” in which the partners are strikingly equal.

We live in an unparalleled environment where time is dense with developments like never before: too much happens and changes in too short a time. And there is something particularly characteristic of our new day: it is filled with the constant tension between macro and micro trends in communication. 

On the one hand, part of the global transformation is the enormous importance that business attaches to ESG policy based on ecological, social and governance criteria. According to this year's Deloitte survey of 1,015 marketing executives, brands are concentrating on strengthening their own internal sustainability practices, rather than focusing externally on how to influence customer behaviour. Our client Schneider Electric, for example, is among the leading global corporations that are following this route, and very successfully at that. Internal sustainability efforts add authenticity to marketing initiatives – they build trust with consumers, and on the other hand, Deloitte claims, help the brand create a more secure, sustainable future for itself in the face of growing global uncertainty. This trend is intertwined with another one – namely that the separation between internal and external communication is increasingly blurred and tends to disappear.

The other side of communication is the micro-world, in which the target groups are becoming more and more fragmented to the level of almost an individual and reasonably require an increasingly niche-focused approach. The micro-universe in communication is projected in the dominance of micro moments that conquer micro video stories – one of the strongest formats for influencing different audiences today. In this colossal displacement, the mythical, but very real and comprehensively gifted artificial intelligence factors in.

In the jungle of messages formed in this fascinating way, the work of the communication specialist becomes more and more difficult, ergo more entertaining. His Grace can no longer be a purist-advertiser or a purist- PR: it would be wise to beware of such antediluvian labels. Communication is one, inseparable, and digital living is very helpful in this regard. It is like a volcanic alloy that gurgles fearfully and threatens to overwhelm the unprepared. 

Businesses are quite aware of the volcanic dynamics of existence and are looking for quick and reliable guidelines for their messages: because they have to change them often. Until yesterday, many Bulgarian companies were literally chasing talents everywhere and every day, now they are pulling job advertisements, and some are cutting staff under the pressure of recession in Europe and because of the relentless competition of labour markets such as India and other Asian countries, where the labour force is numerous and incomparably cheaper. Artificial intelligence is only adding fuel to the fire of this crisis, because there will be people who will become redundant. This process may mark the beginning of the end of Bulgaria as an outsourcing destination. But let's not make predictions, because today they are out of fashion, since in 90 percent of cases they fail (this is another trend, by the way). 

However, it is the vaguely outlined dizzying changes, swings and sometimes crashes that give communication agencies a proper chance. Businesses are in dire need of a partner to successfully communicate transformations that are gradually becoming routine. The agency is no longer the service staff, the sexy waitress of ideas and media formats, but a consultant, expert and connoisseur of the corporation/brand, and able to offer the creative, transformative knowledge of natural intelligence. And here comes another transformation – the hierarchical client-agency model has irrevocably cracked. Eureka – communication specialists have been redeemed! Now the time has come for them to prove a high level of analytical skills, creative thinking, pragmatism and a healthy instinct and to set about transforming crisis prevention as we know it into communication of transformations (the tautology in the entire passage is a sought-after effect?). In this transition period, they can bring in anti-crisis communication as a useful element. Here the power of the word retains its importance – not in spite of, but against the background of the AI. Every word must be thought over, meaningful, responsible, unshakable and irreplaceable. Any statement – polished to the point of obsession, both as text and voice, and as a channel or place of broadcast. There is no going back for communication. The latter can only win if it seeks ever greater precision, transparency, but also empathy; if it opens up to both macro and micro problems and priorities of the world; and if it weaves them into a volcanic alloy. 

Katya Dimitrova, Daniela Konstantinova