In an age of rapid tech change, take comfort, some things remain constant in SME corporate communications.

This is to a certain extent understandable. Why? I believe it is because the rate of change in digital marketing and digital tech is fast – very fast. A consequence of a profession or environment where there is a high rate of change is that people are always looking to the future to see what “the next big thing will be” and plan for that because the rate of change is so rapid and they need to keep up.

In an era where technology penetration is deepening are we at risk of forgetting the human element and science of communication itself? This is, in many ways, an interesting question worth contemplating at the start of a new year. If we accept that communication is a science then the fundamentals of communication on a human level will remain constant whatever happens in technology. Technology is only an enabler of communication and not communication in itself.

A brand still needs to connect first and foremost on a personal and emotional level with all its stakeholders whether communication is through digital marketing or traditional media channels. To do that effectively and sustainably it most connect with all its stakeholders on an emotional level. And to do that we draw on the sciences of communication – social science, human psychology and behavioural sciences. The rate of change in these sciences is often more stable than the rate of change in the digital marketing and digital tech world. That stability offers us an opportunity to build a firm foundation for an SME brands corporate communications.

In other words the firm foundation of communication as a social science should be at the front of the minds of SME corporate communications as well as solid and creative digital marketing strategies. An SME needs both to survive in the turbulent global economy we are now in. But communication as a science and not technology must come first in corporate communications for an SME if we are to have a truly sustainable brand communications and engagement strategy.

The perception of any SME brand or organisation in the eyes of the public is made up of both the actions of that SME brand and all its communications. Words are a form of communication. Words and phrases in themselves can create images or perceptions in the human mind. Words can therefore be used to implant ideas or concepts both in terms of choice of individual words and their arrangement collectively. This illustrates two things in itself I believe. Firstly, it illustrates a need to focus on each word in any external corporate communications. Secondly, it illustrates that even in the digital era that we are in words in and of themselves still have a powerful impact on brand reputation and perception – again digital marketing technology as a communication channel or tool is just an enabler of communication. The fundamentals of communication as a science still hold true just as they always have. This further supports the need for us to be mindful of putting communication science first and not digital tech first in brand communications.

The same is true for images be they still images (photos or pictures) or moving multimedia images (such as video and interactive adverts or video). The only difference is that images psychologically are often more effective at generating emotions and connecting with people at a human level than words alone will be. Again this, I believe, illustrates that the choice of image is important in SME brand and corporate communications whether they are shared through digital or traditional media channels.

So what does all of this mean for SME corporate communications today and going forward in 2014?

Building a reputation and trust with a stakeholder is at its core about human interaction. That sums up everything PR is about. It is about human interaction. Connecting at a personal and human level with all an SME brands stakeholders through all corporate communications activity. Different stakeholders have different personality characteristics and that means different communication preferences if we accept that communication is in itself a science.

This means that understanding stakeholders at a human level must come first. Only from that can you then work out the best communication channel to engage and influence them. In a world of increasing virtual and digital relationships we should not lose sight of the value of building personal relationships through networking events and face to face meetings with stakeholders.

And stakeholder relationship management is of course a continual process because stakeholders are influenced by developments in the external environment they operate in (political, economic, social, technological and legal etc.) all of which shape and change their views over time. The need for constant engagement and understanding at a human level is critical.

So let me now bring all of this together and conclude my message in this final paragraph. To do Corporate Communications and Corporate PR well you need to adopt a clinical approach to communication in all areas of your organisation. It is, I believe, like planning a military operation. Detail, even the smallest detail, is important even in today’s digital age and busy society. Only when you fully understand this as a philosophical foundation to corporate communications can you then appreciate the need to deeply embed and integrate PR thinking into all aspects of the organisation to build a truly effective and competitive reputation. Because the reputation of an SME brand or organisation is not just a result of the work of the corporate communications department but rather collectively all employees in a brand or organisation. Corporate communications is therefore about empowering and enabling behaviour change internally as well as the traditional image of PR as being about “spin” and media relations. To do corporate brand communications well in this digital age we must first and foremost never lose sight of the detail and science behind human communication. And to do that we need to adopt an increasingly clinical approach to all corporate communications activity.