Magazine article Communication World

Hurricanes Look Great from Space

Magazine article Communication World

Hurricanes Look Great from Space

Article excerpt

Emotions are as powerful as any force of nature. The Marketing and Communication Agency (MCA) research at the IABC international conference in New Orleans shows many companies may have a hurricane of negative emotion on their hands, which could damage company performance. Communicators have a role to play in shaping and harnessing the latent emotions in their organizations - positive or negative. Only by channeling those forces can companies embody the statement "employees are our greatest asset."

The great swirling mass of a hurricane seen from space is a lovely sight. The pent-up energy of its eye draws your eye. But is it negative or positive energy? When a hurricane comes, you run - because you have to, not because you want to.

Many of today's most successful organizations are being driven by a similar negative energy. The economy is in full steam: Profits and sales are up. And yet the evidence suggests that the gears of all this great effort - employees - are driven by negative, not positive emotions.

Indeed, stress and challenge drive two-thirds of today's companies, according to results of a pilot survey conducted during an in-depth session at the IABC international conference in New Orleans last June. In addition, almost half (43 percent) of American participants feel their companies are driven by anxiety. Overall, this unique study of 67 communicators in major global organizations provides unprecedented insight into the emotions driving today's businesses.

The Importance of Emotions

The one thing that sets people apart from machines when it comes to applying knowledge is emotion - it is emotions and beliefs that motivate people to apply their knowledge creatively.

A company's technical expertise and know-how (its intellectual capital) are crucial for success. But how do you turn that knowledge into revenue? Your people are the gears converting that intellectual equity into financial capital. For them to be most effective and profitable for the company, they need to be aligned with the company goals and using that intellectual equity in the best possible way.

Knowledge is replicable - as are software systems, organizational structures, products, services, quality levels and libraries of information. Even work forces can be replicated insofar as numbers, core skills and qualifications can be matched. The only differentiator then is emotion - the heart as well as the mind, the corporate personality: the "nice to do business with" factor, the motivation to do more than the basic requirement.

Similarly, while the work force might easily understand intellectually the values of their organization, it is only by bringing emotions into play that they embrace and live those values - giving birth to the corporate personality that brings the brand to life.

Without that corporate or brand personality (translated into customer service), there is little to differentiate one potential supplier from another, and customers are more likely to convert to the competition.

Emotions shape not only the corporate culture, brand personality, but ultimately business performance also. In today's competitive world, companies are looking for that extra edge - the one that comes from its people and its brand personality. And the emotions driving your business internally affect the way it is perceived externally by customers, stockholders and financial analysts.

What Emotions Are Driving Today's Companies?

Our research shows that stress, challenge and anxiety are the key drivers in the U.S. Outside of the U.S., the emphasis is more on commitment (in Canada) and determination and trust (in Europe and elsewhere). Americans are also twice as likely to mention fear as others. As exhibit 2 shows, key emotional drivers differ slightly by location.

Challenge: Positive or Negative?

Generally, challenge is a positive emotion, but when tied in with other negative factors, such as stress and anxiety, it can take on a negative form itself. …

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