Patricia Coll, journalist, communication consultant and author of Marketing y comunicación en la nueva economía [Marketing and Communication in the New Economy]

"Digitization and interconnectivity have brought about a total paradigm shift in communication"

Patricia Coll:

Patricia Coll: "You are always starting from scratch in communication: whatever worked yesterday will certainly not work today"

Patricia Coll holds a doctoral degree in communication, forms part of the Blanquerna STREAM research team and also teaches marketing and communication at various universities, including the UOC. She works as an external communication manager at Institut Marquès and collaborates as a journalist with El Pais Retina, The New Barcelona Post and Wolters Kluwer. She is also the author of the recently published Marketing y comunicación en la nueva economía [Marketing and Communication in the New Economy] (Editorial UOC). 

By Marian Antón

"Start-ups are the biggest innovators and risk-takers in terms of communication" 

How has communication changed since you started out in the sector? 

I began my career at the end of the last millennium! The sector has obviously evolved over the past two decades, to the point of having been radically transformed. Digitization and interconnectivity have brought about a total paradigm shift. We’re not just talking about a technological change, but also a change in our model of society. It’s really exciting to be working in communication at a time like this, when every day is different from the previous one. Everything changes and our profession is doing the same, at the rapid rate at which society is changing.

Does the line distinguishing marketing from communication really exist nowadays?

To an increasingly lesser extent. The boundaries are very fuzzy in the area of brands and corporate communication, particularly in the newest fields of activity, such as influencer or content marketing.

What are the challenges professionals in this sector now face?

There are numerous challenges. Analytical vision is one of the main ones. We are now able to base our communication decision-making on data and we therefore need to be analytical in order to understand how to interpret them.

In your book, you stress that continuing education is key. What exactly is a growth hacking approach? 

Yes, absolutely. Continuous learning is the key to being able to develop at the same pace as our chosen professional field. What worked yesterday may not work today, so you have to always be trying and learning new things. Having a growth hacker approach means aiming for growth. In order to achieve that, creativity and analysis are key elements in the learning process.

Could you give us one of the examples you include in your book?

The book details more than a dozen practical case studies looking at brands of the new economy, each of them representing one of the communication and marketing fields of activity we consider to be most relevant today. I would prefer to list them all, because they are all interesting: the branding implemented by 8wires and Badi; Wallapop’s advertising and internal communications; Cabify’s public relations activities; the influencer marketing at Fotocasa and InfoJobs; Westwing's content marketing; Glovo's investor relations; Uber's crisis communication; corporate social responsibility at Holaluz; and the global communications vision implemented at ByHours. All are both interesting and inspiring.  

Which sectors do you see as being the most innovative in terms of communication?

As a collection of new companies led by digital natives, the start-up ecosystem has the greatest capacity for innovation and risk-taking. A similar approach is also being increasingly seen across all types of organizations, however, as they realize they need to raise their game if they don’t want to be left behind.

A benchmark company or specific campaign...

Any of the brands featured in my book are currently leading the way in the area of communication.

And an example of one that, in your opinion, has been left behind and needs to raise their game...

All of them. Because whatever worked yesterday will certainly not work today; nobody can afford to rest on their laurels. You are always starting from scratch, every single day.

In your book you also talk about case studies involving influencers. When are they a profitable investment for companies to include in their campaigns?

That is currently the subject of some debate. In fact, I’m working on an article at the moment about whether influencer marketing is a bubble that is about to burst. The figures show that brand investment is growing exponentially with regard to influencers. That being said, there are also professionals and companies that have raised question about some of them using unethical practices, such as buying followers, for example.

What advice would you offer communication students in terms of their professional careers?

Do something you love, enjoy it and learn every day.