By Efosa Aiyevbomwan


Effective communication is an important aspect of our day to day lives as individuals, societies or business entities.  This becomes even more pertinent when we consider the advent of social media and the trend of instant communication which leaves little time for thought and composition.

Furthermore, in the corporate world this means that businesses are having to structure their communication processes to blend with the times: corporate messages have taken the form of 140 characters; they are brief, quick and immediate. This is all very well, as the average consumer is routinely literally bombarded with news and information from different angles; social media platforms, e-mail service providers and  search engine operators use subscribers’ data to provide tailored information or advertisements at the subscribers’ behest or otherwise – usually otherwise, though.

While we may debate the effectiveness of this trend, we cannot help but observe the fundamentals, or lack of them thereof. Communication, at its core, is a two way street. You have a listener and a speaker. Effective communication thrives when these two aspects are employed, giving room for feedback and ultimately mutual understanding/intelligibility and conclusion. This is not just important for face to face or interpersonal communication, but it’s extremely pertinent in corporate relations, or public relations.

The use of the internet and its various paraphernalia has indeed made life easier and business transactions and interactions smoother. However, it has relegated the importance of the fundamental communication principle of listening. Companies simply do not listen to their publics; surely, the companies are able to get feedback through the various customer care Twitter handles and Facebook accounts which they use in relating with their customer base, but what about the presence of a ‘human face’ or ‘voice,’ what people in PR call ‘humanising’ the brand?

The best practice is to ensure that in all the digital noise, the human face of the brand persists. This can be done by setting up a department or sub-department within a Public Affairs/Corporate Communications or Public Relations department, whose sole responsibility will be the personal interaction, if necessary, with the public. This is important because even though many people are comfortable airing their views online, sometimes they just want to talk and be listened to, face to face. The anonymity that the internet and social media present often pales in comparison with the comfort, satisfaction and ease one feels, when he knows that he is talking directly with someone and is being listened to. Conversely, the face to face approach shows respect: your consumer is not relegated to just a number or statistic; not one of your many followers on Twitter or Facebook.

Companies need to understand that digital platforms are not substitutes for the real deal, the human being, the person; they are merely tools with which people can better relate with other people. As more companies embrace and adopt the technological revolution, it is pertinent to note that whilst technology can replace human endeavour in various industries like manufacturing, the handling of relationships with people is best left to other people.