Communicating to and for The Masses
The following is an excerpt from The Evangelists: Insights from Leaders of the Nation’s Most Beloved Brands. Written by Monica Padillo, this chapter is titled “Communicating to and for The Masses.” In it, Celerina Amores, Senior Director for Corporate Communications at Ayala Foundation, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in marketing to the masses.
For Celerina Amores, Senior Director for Corporate Communications at Ayala Foundation, it’s not always about the business. Working with a corporate foundation puts her in a position where the focus should be the needs of the communities, all while keeping in step with business.
Prior to Ayala Foundation, she worked with GMA Network, specifically handling regional news and public affairs. It seems like quite the jump from one industry to another, but her background in broadcast media has helped greatly in her work today. In fact, she believes that the mix of media and news and the more lifestyle-attuned culture of Ayala Foundation can be very beneficial to communities.
“We’re now able to think bigger, get out of the typical mold of a foundation and be more proactive and creative in the things that we do along the lines of disseminating information―up to our board, partners, and sponsors and down to our colleagues and communities,” Amores shared.
To illustrate their communication strategy, Amores used the example of helping a farming community. “We have to be able to elevate their issues or topics on a level that will be interesting and relevant to the public,” Amores said. “I think this is where media experience comes in handy because you’re able to contextualize a pain point and manage to tell your story with the help of data.”
As much as possible, they base stories on data they have collected from their groundwork and available literature. With the data they have, they can better identify problems that need to be addressed in a more holistic manner.
Numbers on paper may be good to look at, especially when you see just how many people have been helped. However, numbers alone will not be enough to cause the change that the organization seeks. “We believe that there must be faces or case studies to tell a particular story. When you’re telling a story, ordinary viewers or readers should be able to understand you so that your story inspires others to help and on the whole, allows you to achieve impact,” Amores said.
That is why she advocates for the “masa-fication” (to make accessible to the masses) of communications, hence, the promotion of language that caters more to the masses starting with their social media posts. Amores, along with her diverse and dynamic team, now do more posts in Tagalog. “I think people get to appreciate you more if you’re more in touch with their core. I think as a communicator, that’s what I tried to bring in,” Amores said. Since then, her group noted an increase in traffic and interactions with their posts.
One project she is proud of is Maging Magiting (Becoming Brave), a program to promote and encourage love of country.
First, they started working with Ayala Malls Cinemas to update the National Anthem aired in theaters. To do this project, they also partnered with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and later learned of the many tattered flags still being flown around the country. Ayala Foundation then decided to collaborate with the NHCP to help replace tattered flags around Metro Manila. From there, Maging Magiting became a nationwide program that managed to distribute more than 10,000 flags to schools and government offices nationwide in 2019, together with partners like the Department of Education and Chooks-to-Go.
“Magiting has no direct translation in English. Kagitingan means valiance or bravery though,” Amores said. “But what we’re trying to say is you don’t have to die to do something for your country. You just do your everyday thing with passion and do the things right for the greater majority.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everything and everyone in the world. And the need to adapt and pivot to be able to survive the crisis is not lost in an organization like Ayala Foundation. Amores believes the best way to deal with stakeholders is to be as transparent as possible and remain true to your vision. In the case of Ayala Foundation, the vision is to develop communities that are productive, creative, self-reliant and proud to be Filipino.
“When it comes to communicating as a non-profit organization, we certainly have the principles of community development where collaboration is key,” Amores said.
As a communicator, she finds it important to stress just that. Amores and her team then measures their successes based on social impact, seeking to cause a positive chain of reactions within the communities they help.
“How did we improve the lives of a family or community? How did our programs assist in giving children more confidence to face their futures? Can we say we love our country enough to follow traffic rules, throw trash in the right place, or contribute to productivity?” Amores asked. “These are questions that we may not be able to answer overnight, but we are certainly trying to help provide the building blocks that enable communities to get there.”
To get more insights from other marketing leaders like Celerina Amores, please check out the full book, available for purchase here.
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