Companies communicate in many ways, from internal policy announcements to media releases to social media campaigns. Several critical elements permeate all successful communications efforts, no matter the tools or the methods used to do the work. For your business to create and maintain an effective communications strategy, there are tasks that will be important to undertake.
Make a plan. A formal strategy — even a one-page guide — helps ensure that messages are consistent. When communication flows from an established process, with well-known waypoints for review and adjustment, a company can ensure that its communication is in line with the company mission, vision and culture.
When it comes to communication, your company can’t afford to wing it. If your business is small, contracting with an outside PR firm can help ensure that messaging is consistent and well planned.
Focus on transparency. Credibility is critical in the business world. Customers want to do business with companies they trust. A strategy that ensures communication transparency can help build customer loyalty.
What does transparency in communication look like? It means being open and honest when something goes wrong instead of trying to hide it. It means sharing relevant information related to company performance, product sourcing, price and packaging changes, company standards and practices, etc.
Make it a team effort. Everyone in the company has some sort of role to play in communication. At the top, the company founder, owner or CEO is responsible for the general tenor and content of communication. Company leaders don’t always play a direct role in every communication piece, but they do establish the company culture that governs the style of communication. Good leaders also help make sure that everyone in the company knows the communications strategy.
At the next level, the human resources manager is responsible for communication to team members and new hires — a critical role in this challenging economic time. The public relations manager will handle media releases and community outreach, and the marketing manager will be in charge of advertising. In smaller organizations, these roles are sometimes held by the same person or outsourced to local experts.
On an individual level, each team member should, ideally, understand and embrace the company vision to better share that information internally or out in the public, say via social media.
Train and practice. A communications strategy is no good if it is collecting dust on a shelf. Company managers should hold regular trainings that refresh employees on the overall plan and that help them develop new skills in areas such as writing, presentation and social media management. These trainings can give senior leaders practice at articulating the strategy, and they’ll give the entire team the opportunity to provide feedback on what types of communication work well in varying circumstances.
Regular trainings also can help you identify gaps and meet existing needs, such as through hiring an outside editor to review communications content.
Keep reading: Is your company ready for public and media attention?