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Life and Work
Communicators Keep in Shape
The umbrella organization of the German Savings Banks Finance Group wants communication that is faster, more consistent, and better tailored to its target market. And this is why it is setting up a vast newsroom in the heart of Berlin.
Bodybuilders used to lift barbells here, while endurance athletes spent hours sweating on the rowing ma- chines. The fitness studio in Berlin’s Friedrichstraße has, however, long since closed its doors. Construc-
tion workers are now routing new multicore cable harnesses and plastering brightly hued partitions. This is where the new newsroom of the German Savings Banks Association (DSGV) and the Savings Banks Financial Portal (SFP)—the central service provider for communication and digital services of the Savings Banks Finance Group—is being set up. As of fall 2019, eighty-five experts will be coordinating strategic communi- cations for German savings banks, state banks, public sector insurance companies, and other special financial services providers such as the fund service provider Deka, from here. They will be working for 650 companies in all. The project is, to borrow a gym term, a form of “heavy lifting.”
Radiating a combination of pride, curiosity, and excitement, Christian Achilles, head of communications at DSGV, takes us on a tour of the building site smack in the heart of Berlin one sunny day. The project’s dimensions, extending to 2,200 square meters of floor space, make an immediate impression. In the future, this is where Achilles and three of his colleagues will be shouldering the responsibility for communications. Joining him are Silke Lehm, also from DSGV, as well as Ber- nadett Faßhauer-Kotte and Arne Münster, both members of the SFP executive board. “We won’t just be concentrating on corporate communication here, but will also be integrating all areas of customer and marketing communications,” as Achilles explains. This is why the newsroom will also be used by the Association’s strategy-focused communicators and the mar- keting and content specialists from SFP in equal measure.
More and more companies, associations, and political parties are setting up newsrooms modeled on news desks at newspaper editorial offices. The crucial difference from con- ventional communications departments is that news topics
are not the main criterion for managing operations, nor are channels. Instead, the communicators have reacted to a fun- damental change in media usage brought about by digitali- zation. New channels of communication are emerging, while old ones are becoming redundant. The speed at which news travels continues to accelerate, while consumers’ attention spans continue to fall. Algorithms help decide which content is presented to users online. This makes it increasingly diffi- cult for companies and associations to send consistent mes- sages and to address all audiences appropriately.
And this is what savings banks have been experiencing as well. “Financial services impact every aspect of daily life. This means that we deal with almost every German in just about ev- ery situation in life,” as Achilles says. In order to keep all of them in focus, twenty-seven “personas” were developed to repre- sent the DSGV’s target market as realistically as possible. The spectrum extends from private and corporate customers from all walks of life to journalists and political decision-makers. In combination with the specific issues that affect these stake- holders, a comprehensive communications plan was produced. This ensures transparency and consistency across all the dif- ferent subdivisions, from public relations to marketing.
Yet this was only the first of many changes to come. “At some point,” Achilles explains, “we realized that along with top- ic planning based on the customer’s perspective, we needed a standardized system for managing the communications chan- nels.” This is not just a matter of establishing a new discipline to add to all the others in the newsroom, but rather rethinking the communications process from the bottom up. Before even considering the architecture of the newsroom or the requisite technology, the work processes had to be put to the test. “First the process organization, then the organizational structure,” says Achilles. The experts from Porsche Consulting were on hand to provide assistance. “We approached the consultancy because we wanted to define new processes that will function,” as Achilles explains. “What we gained was a fully flexible or- ganization that can continue growing as requirements change.”
The future newsroom staff will keep working in two differ- ent offices until it’s time to move in, in autumn 2019. However, the staff is already using agile principles for its work. A digital planning and production tool will soon enhance the interplay between the teams and subdivisions. Multidisciplinary teams
“Overnight, we can change the topic portfolio, post content for new target markets, or configure whole new channels.”
Head of Communications at DSGV
106 Porsche Consulting The Magazine

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