Q&A with Principal Communication Strategist of Kwilt Strategy
Our Around the Bonfyre interview series is a chance to pick the brains of leading experts and industry veterans on all things employee engagement, workplace culture, internal communications, and more. In one of our earliest interviews, we sat down with Sheetal Agarwal, who was then operating as the principal communications and community strategist for Kwilt Strategy. Here are some highlights from our chat with Sheetal.
On her community-centric approach to communications:
“Well, at a high-level, communication is the thread that pulls diverse groups together into a community, and our shared values are what connect us to one another and motivate action. No matter how big or small an organization is, it’s essential to be cognizant of the different types of people and groups that comprise these diverse communities. Whether we’re working with a startup or an organization that’s been around for decades, both will have employees and C-Suite executives with diverse opinions, perspectives, values and beliefs. Paying attention and doing some due diligence to understand where there are common values or potential differences is really worth the effort, particularly if the organization wants to create alignment and clarity around a shared purpose or mission.”
On why “brand champions” aren’t right for every communications strategy:
“I think most corporate communicators still tend to think in terms of ‘audience,’ whether that audience is internal, leadership, or customers. When leaders do that, they lose the interconnectedness of the community and relationships that exist within communities. Right now we hear a lot about ‘brand champion’ strategy. While useful, I think there is a flawed logic in how it is often applied with a major assumption being it is a one-size-fits-all strategy. Communities are diverse and have their own values and norms. Spending time understanding the norms and values of a particular community is necessary to identify what kind of relationships are at play and what kind of strategy will work.”
On the link between community building and culture alignment:
“Shared values are what connects community-building efforts and cultural alignment. What’s interesting about our approach to the values identification process with our clients is that we really spend time both at the internal and the external level of stakeholders to identify shared values and value conflicts. When values are not shared amongst or between communities, we call this a value tension or value conflict. Identifying the connections and the value tensions allows the organization and leadership to take a step back and actually re-assess their path, mission, and direction if necessary. Leadership can examine whether it is willing to shift on a core value of the organization to address the needs of the particular community it is trying to connect with.”