Industrial PRIME sat down with the man in charge to discuss the past, the present, and possibly even the future of corporate communications.
It was in 2008 that Atte Palomäki (also known by his Twitter username @attep) received his post as Executive Vice President of Communications and Branding at Wärtsilä. The years that followed have been interesting, to say the least.
“Owing to technological development, corporate communications has undergone a tremendous change in just a few years,” Palomäki says. “The way people access information has changed completely. Meanwhile, the ways in which we as a company can now reach our audiences has been revolutionized. We can now do a great deal more by ourselves than ever before.”
In addition to interesting opportunities, keeping up with these recent changes is also proving to be a tremendous challenge for companies around the world.
Far from being daunted by new challenges, Wärtsilä has instead adopted and maintained a proactive approach to new trends in corporate communications.
Wärtsilä was among the first companies in Finland to distribute its annual report only in online form. In addition, it was the first to introduce a tablet edition of its stakeholder magazine Twentyfour7. The company is also taking advantage of the increased role of social media.
“Through the creative use of various media channels, we now disseminate information and reach our target audiences much more efficiently than ever before – often with lower expenses as well.”
Go with the Flow
Instead of hesitating or wasting time on overly meticulous planning, it has often been the strategy of Wärtsilä’s band of comms to take the dive first, and then learn and adapt along the way. This can-do attitude has proved successful.
Social media are among the most important contributors to Wärtsilä’s recent success. The company has accounts in social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. According to Palomäki, the number of visitors to Wärtsilä’s official website has grown significantly since the company started using social media to amplify its messaging.
“The significance of social media is undeniable,” Palomäki says. “They bring us publicity and help us spread our message globally. They also provide a great platform for our personnel around the world to connect and to share their experiences. In our staff we have 18,000 potential brand ambassadors around the globe. We encourage our people to make use of social media and by doing that help make Wärtsilä a better-known company.”
PRIME reckons that companies these days are able to disseminate their own content so efficiently that the company itself is on its way to becoming a sort of a “medium” of its own. Has the role of traditional news media diminished?
A former journalist himself, Palomäki admits that the role has indeed changed. However, he still finds traditional news media an integral part of a corporation’s successful communications.
“Visibility in the news media is as important as it has always been. If a certain message strategically important to us receives news coverage, our credibility and reputation as a company is maintained, or increased. This is also important from the point of view of brand building.”
According to Palomäki, however, media interest comes naturally only in Finland, where Wärtsilä is a brand known to everybody. It is much more of a challenge to reach significant news coverage in large markets such as the US or China. Also, in spite of the fact that Wärtsilä is a global company, there are still many countries where its name does not necessarily ring any bells to most people.
“It is not easy to go to these countries and start recruiting people,” Palomäki admits. “But what are people in these areas going to do when they find out about an open position? They google us, or they find us through social media. And what they find there really matters. I am confident to say that our content speaks to young professionals around the world, and that people who find us online will see us in a positive light.”
It seems Wärtsilä knows its game in the changed media environment of corporate communications. But how about the future? Any wild guesses as to what will happen next?
“Ten years ago no one would have been able to see just how dramatically things would change,” Palomäki recalls. “That said, I am not even going to guess what corporate communications will look like in 2025! However, no matter what the future holds, one thing is for sure: Wärtsilä and I are curious and excited. We will certainly explore the opportunities with an open mind and doer-spirit.”
Text and image by Industrial PRIME.
tel. +358 45136 3532