#Interview19 - Charlotte Létondot, Director of Corporate Communication at ING in France

Director of corporate communication for ING in France for a short year, Charlotte Létondot oversees internal communication, press relations, corporate social media, CSR, corporate philanthropy and public affairs. her mission and that of her team: to develop the reputation of this pioneer of online banking and the visibility of its activities, without forgetting to maximize the commitment of its 600 employees. After 15 years spent in communication agencies (Publicis Consultants, Havas Paris, Euro RSCG Worldwide, Ies Consultants, Brand Nation) in positions as diverse as consulting director, e-influence manager, or development director, this specialist in the influence has learned to put communications at the service of business, develop integrated approaches and give meaning to transformation projects or civic commitments.

Would you take up a post in internal communication and external communication on the eve of confinement?

Yes of course because the job is worth it! But it is true that my assumption of the post was special. The lack of "face-to-face" meetings and informal exchanges, even though I did not know the codes or the culture of the company, made my immersion and my integration longer and more complicated
Is there still room for Covid Free communication today?

Yes, I think so. The Covid will profoundly change society without yet fully measuring the effects. After a year of crisis, employees and customers expect communication to give them perspective and meaning. At ING in France, we measured the morale of the troops throughout the year. Today, it is clear that they express a need for information no longer on the management of the crisis, but on the new normal that is imposed on us. This calls for communication that is linked to their concerns, anchored in reality and in action. Care must be taken that communication is never above ground!

What has been the impact of the crisis on your communication and that of your industry?

Last year we celebrated our 20th anniversary. All festive activities were put on hold and we focused on crisis management internally and then with customers. For that, we started with a blank page! We have initiated completely new actions, digitized events, launched new partnerships such as with Secours Populaire and created new formats. For example, we launched a video series "3 questions to" asked to each member of the management committee. At first, it was internally designed content, but very quickly I felt that it could interest external audiences and we posted it on Linkedin. This content generated a lot of engagement not only from employees but also from our community at large because it sounded true. The times have, from this point of view, made the border between internal and external communication even more porous. It has changed the perception of internal communication. Its role on cohesion, its benefit on bonding and engagement have become clearer for everyone.

Notoriety, perceived quality, satisfaction, recommendation, consideration ... ING would be the brand that has made the most progress in France on these items according to the YouGov Institute .... What is your recipe?

I think it has to do with the consistency of our messages across all channels. We carried out an advertising campaign on display, digital and social networks to enhance the customer experience. We have been named Top Employer for the 10th consecutive year and received good coverage in the press and on social networks. And then our fight against fraud was the subject of “L'œil du 20h” of France 2. In the end, whatever the channel, the message that remained is that ING is committed to its employees and its customers and this is what made, I believe, the difference.

Your online bank early digitized its relations with the press and influencers. Today you are launching a redesign of your digital newsroom which becomes the reference site for the company. Why?

For 4 years, we have been using a newsroom which allows us to publish and distribute our information to the right targets. This technology proved to be very effective in boosting our audience in the media and on social networks, but the platform lacked personality and the discourse was too global. However, if we want to create proximity and link, we have to tell what we are doing in France. We, therefore, considered a redesign to make it truly our corporate site with richer information on our corporate culture in France, our commitments, our CSR approach ... while continuing to publish our news, studies, and podcasts of our macro-economists. It is scheduled to go online at the end of March.

In 2017, you gave courses at CELSA on the impact of social networks on corporate communication. In 3 years, have things changed?

My classes lasted 8 years and every year there were changes! Platforms are born, audiences change, there are always new uses and new challenges. The rise of a Twitch or a Clubhouse, the Instagram and LinkedIn stories that give more people the opportunity to express themselves, require questioning and innovation in approaches. I also note that the development of social networks is accelerating the decentralization of communication and its incarnation by its employees, in particular thanks to LinkedIn posts. It gives us the means to develop a vision carried by individuals. In the editorial committee that I lead every Wednesday, we think about the topics but also how to launch them, whether through ING channels but also managers or members of the coding. Traditional patterns have exploded, communication has become a work of art.

2020 is the landmark year for podcasts. A real new format for corporate communication or a fad?

I consider them to be real formats. In this age of picture and video, audio is refreshing whether it's a podcast or internal radio. After that, it's like everything, you need an editorial line and that makes sense in the content strategy.

Reddit rather than CNBC, Wallstreetbets rather than the Wallstreet journal ... The GameStop episode is about stock marketers helped by discussion forums, who take back power against hedge funds. What inspires you?

It tells about the stronger influence of individuals and their ability to change things, mobilize themselves and drive change. It also illustrates the climate of mistrust that exists towards companies, financial institutions, and all practices deemed obscure and unfair. Of course, all of this existed before. But today the fights have more and more media resonances and are bringing together more and more people. They are no longer the sole act of very committed activists on the fringes of society. The demand for transparency is spreading and is becoming increasingly strong on the part of consumers, shareholders… everyone is concerned! Anything that appears unfair is singled out and companies are expected to engage and collaborate.

The crisis has generated greater questioning and a loss of meaning in professional life. What does this change for internal communication?

The crisis of meaning has accelerated with the covid because it is coupled with increased isolation. As a result, internal communication has become the main channel of information for employees deprived of informal conversations. They need business and strategy information, but also perspectives. Society is changing, work is changing, so are working methods. We can imagine, for example, that people will not go back to the office 5 days a week! And then, employees aspire to forge links with their team, their colleagues… and experience moments of conviviality. For the company, it is not easy to recreate unity and living together when it becomes a sum of separate individuals. In my opinion, this will be the biggest challenge for internal communication in the coming years.

About ING France 

ING France is a branch of the ING group based in Amsterdam. The ING group has more than 54,000 employees worldwide and supports more than 38 million individuals, professional and institutional clients. In France, ING has more than 600 employees working in two activities: an online bank and a corporate and investment bank. ING in France obtained the Excellence Client 2021 award for the 5th consecutive year, nominated by Ipsos, Trusteam Finance, and the Service Academy. The company is also Top Employer 2021 for the 10th consecutive year. To find out more: https://newsroom.ing.fr/