A strong corporate communication strategy is key to ensuring the most current, concise information is always available and being conveyed to both your internal and external audiences.
Corporate communication strategy is linked directly to your overall business strategy and objectives. Every time your company’s direction shifts or new goals are identified, these changes need to be communicated effectively and accurately. The company’s reputation and success depends on how well you’re communicating with your external (the general public) and internal audiences (employees and stakeholders).
A Good Corporate Communications Strategy Listens First
Your strategy, or plan, should convey the goals and methods of your company’s outreach plans, relaying what they want to share with the public, as well as employees and stakeholders. The first step to ensure your executives’ strategy will be communicated in the best way for each audience, is through internal and external communications audits, which are made up of five steps:
- Identify and prioritize executives’ goals. Start by understanding what each executive sees in the company’s future. The best way to discover and extract this information is through individual interviews with top-level management and the C-Suite. Ask them to identify their top priorities for the coming year and ensure everyone is in agreement as to the message they want conveyed.
- Conduct employee surveys. Your employees are the frontline of your business. Their perception of the company is key to how others see your brand. When developing a corporate communications strategy, you need to make sure this audience’s voices are heard as their responses will dictate the best way to communicate with them. Use surveys to engage employees and get their feedback
- Research stakeholder input. If stakeholders and investors are communicating something less than confidence and excitement for your company’s success and future plans, the communications strategy must correct that perception—immediately. Stakeholders are the most valuable part of your company, and it’s important to communicate in a way that is most effective for them.
- Review customer comments. Take advantage of all the online measurement tools available to discover your customers’ pulse rate on how your company is delivering on your promises to them. Utilize social media to not only take advantage of social listening, but also to initiate conversations that get consumers talking.
- Include suppliers in the mix. Suppliers that work with your company should also be considered when formulating your strategic corporate messaging. Do they feel like being affiliated with your corporation is beneficial to their business? If the answer is yes (hopefully it is), then ask what they enjoy most about working with your business. Use that feedback to not only strengthen your vendor and supplier relationships but also as part of your unique messaging.
Include EVER-EVOLVING MESSAGING
A company’s business strategy (hopefully) is constantly evolving to grow and keep pace with competitors and the industry. Corporate communications includes routinely going through a “checks and balances” process to develop and execute the messaging from executives’ corporate strategy accurately, and how your company’s different audiences perceive and interpret that information.
Speak To Your Audience(s)
A clear-cut communication strategy is the framework to:
- Provide a better understanding of your company
- Enhance your reputation
- Influence different audiences’ attitudes and actions toward your corporation
After identifying the priorities and areas where your company works best and that can use improvement (you can go even more in-depth with a SWOT analysis), you can establish a strong corporate communication strategy that aligns with the overall business strategy. To do so, you need to identify the focus and set priorities for each audience. For your narrative to truly be useful, keep it simple and detailed. The clearer your plan the better because it ensures everyone “stays on message.”
Since each group you are communicating with is very diverse, you’ll need to find the best way to reach and communicate with them.
Executives: After it has been determined that all top-level management agrees on the messaging to be conveyed, how to convey it, and to whom it should be conveyed to, it is crucial that no one deviate from “the plan.” Media and stakeholders have radar antennae when it comes to picking up inconsistent information coming from different members of the C-Suite. All members of top management should have your company’s “elevator speech” memorized to convey consistency in goals, objectives and successes.
Employees: Develop tools and templates that help employees share your company story consistently and clearly and in a way they can feel passionate about. It’s critical to make sure executives’ actions match what employees are saying and doing!
Stakeholders: Once you identify any misperceptions your stakeholders may have formed, an impactful communication strategy will address these issues in straight-forward fashion. You can easily tackle these misperceptions through:
- Video commentary from the executives posted on your website and social media
- Trade publication ads
- Press releases
Customers: One negative comment can negate 10 positive reviews. Don’t assume that your customers are reading the same press releases as your stakeholders or scrolling through hundreds of online reviews. This audience needs your message delivered through channels, including social media, online resources and word-of-mouth. Tout your message on Twitter, post your company’s latest accomplishments on Facebook and LinkedIn, and be involved in your community!
Suppliers: A simplified version of the executives’ “elevator speech,” as well as strong mission, vision and values statements distributed to your front-line employees will reinforce them delivering a consistent positive corporate message to your suppliers.
THINK IT THROUGH
Effective corporate communication ties directly to the success of the corporation. Your company’s reputation, survival and success rest on how well it communicates with the public as well as employees and stakeholders. When effective corporate communications strategies are part of the ongoing, evolving business structure, the ability to achieve growth and a positive reputation will be strengthened.
Learn more about how Watermark can help you develop an effective corporate communication strategy here.