The main aim of corporate communications is to build and support the reputation of the organisation with its stakeholders and employees through the presentation of coherent, consistent messages.
For successful corporate communications you need some key business criteria in place:
- strong leadership
- clear vision for the organisation
- sound business strategy
- clear and relevant values
- good management practice, including management communication
Without these you will struggle to develop appropriate and meaningful messaging and the subsequent communications will lack authenticity.
Because there is such a strong connection between the business strategy and the role of corporate communication, it is important that the corporate communication function is represented at the Board. When this doesn't happen, the impact of strategic decisions on the reputation of the organisation may be over-looked; the corporate communication function can then find itself on the back foot, in a fire-fighting position.
Four Key steps to ensure you communicate effectively
Step 1 - Identify your stakeholders, get together with your team and other you work with. Do a stakeholder map and see who is connected to who.
Step 2 - Analyse your stakeholder interests. Who is positive about what you are trying to do and who is likely to create barriers?
Step 3 - Use that analysis to plan your communications, who can you use to promote what you are doing, who can influence the nay sayers?
Step 4 - Enact the plan and monitor its success, use feedback to ensure your communications are working.
This last step is vital, never assume communications are hitting the mark unless you have proof that thisi s the case.
Finally - Some Key Tips for Communicating Effectively
- Be clear on the objectives of your communications, these may differ for different stakeholders.
- Don't overload communications with too many messages, one big and 2 or 3 supporting ones.
- Answer the 'so what' question, give people a reason to listen that is meaningful to them.
- Measure impact through testing awareness, levels of take-up, website hits, positive media coverage
- Be prepared to change your messages or methods of communications if they aren't working.
- Identify where stakeholders have formal and informal links with each other, consider how you can use this knowledge to help positive stakeholders influence less positive ones.
- When was the last time you asked a stakeholder how they wanted to be communicated with? Go ahead and ask them now!
- Stakeholders have to feel that their views are going to be taken into account. Remember don't ask someone for their opinion if your starting intention is to just ignore it!