Does your corporate communication strategy not seem to resonate with your audiences? Or that it might sometimes be out of line with your business ambitions? Then it is time for you to rethink your approach to corporate communications.
Citizens expect more and more from organisations, especially from a communication standpoint. This growing interest from public opinion in corporate affairs has led to a greater professionalisation of the corporate communication industry.
A bespoke corporate communication strategy is the key to achieving a sustainable and successful corporate strategy. It is critical to invest and constantly reflect upon your corporate communications: What is my role in the industry and society overall? Are people aware of the value my company brings to society? Do my messages resonate well amongst my key audiences?
Eventually, it all comes down to whether your corporate communication strategy is the best suited to your corporate needs and ambitions. This blog aims to give you practical insights about how to devise a strong corporate communication strategy, by debunking the most common misconceptions one by one.
1. A corporate communication strategy is all about increasing visibility: the more visible my organisation is, the better
Do not confuse communications with noise. Being very visible to irrelevant audiences will hold you back from achieving true visibility. You will be spending energy and money trying to convince people whose involvement is not critical to your business. Moreover, being too visible may backfire. If you are focussed on building your brand awareness without building meaningful relationships with your audiences – by speaking to them, by trying to understand their motivations, the dynamics at play, this may prove detrimental when a crisis strikes. There will be much more communication work needed to mitigate reputational risks.
It is important to identify your target audiences and craft specific messages for them, messages that will resonate, that will meet their expectations. Be mindful of your resources but also those of your stakeholders. Who do you want to communicate to – and how does targeting this stakeholder relates back to your organisational goals? Ask yourself what do you want people to remember or know your organisation for? This will enable you to develop tailored and impactful communications.
2. If I do not see an (immediate) benefit of my corporate communications, it has been a waste of time and money
Corporate communication is about building relations and coalitions. You will never know what influence people or other organisations can have on your business in the future. Take media relations for instance. A journalist may not cover your story now but the established relationship can still be of value in the future because they remember you as an authority in your field or can refer you to another journalist. Communication is tricky as it is not a tangible discipline. It is difficult to assess the immediate impact of a corporate communication strategy, except in times of crisis when communication helps mitigate reputational risk.
Corporate communications are like a lubricant that ease your business relationships over time. It takes time to convince people – especially now when competition is so fierce in some sectors. You need to speak to stakeholders regularly, sharing valuable insights to make them see that you are here to stay. Only then, they will start to trust you. Targeted communications also have exponential benefits: the more you invest in targeted communication efforts, the more results you will achieve. It is therefore of importance to invest in stakeholder relationships.
3. Corporate communication is first and foremost about telling people about my organisation before investigating what my stakeholders may need
This is exactly the other way around. Think about this in a personal setting: when someone talks about themselves and shares information you are not particularly interested in, you quickly lose attention.
First, always look at what your organisation has to offer and ask yourself how this could be interesting to your stakeholders. Especially now, at times of big transitions, public organisations, companies, or civil servants may be looking for advice and expert knowledge about the impact of some industrial processes, or the consequences of some new technology. The world is complexifying; your offer may have benefits you did not consider. You may also find similar organisations facing the same challenges as you do. Investigating, knowing your competition and the playing field, understanding your key stakeholders’ problems and motivations is key to crafting an impactful strategic communication that is beneficial to your company in the long run.
4. Only talk about the good and positive things my organisation does
This is outdated and potentially harmful to your corporate reputation. We live in a transparent world, where everyone outside your organisation can see and check what you do and how you do it. Only telling positive stories can raise suspicion and undermine your credibility as a trusted partner.
The key to being seen as a credible organisation – now and in the future – starts by being transparent in your communications, at both internal and external levels. This relates back to corporate communications being strategic and focused on the long-term. Because working on the long-term starts today.
5. Existing roadmaps and standard corporate communication formats fit most organisations
Every organisation is unique. So is your strategy. Every organisation and business model present their own risks and opportunities, and by using a standard format, there is a big risk you miss out on those.
Maintain an open dialogue with the heads of your different businesses lines and get abreast of the trends and opportunities in their areas of expertise. Being up-to-date and knowing what is going on inside and outside your organisation will help you craft a powerful corporate communications strategy. This will take time and reflection, but it will give you further visibility on the future of the industry and help you devise a strategy solely dedicated to your business and corporate objectives.
In conclusion, to build a successful corporate communication strategy, you must ask yourself how every communication effort relates back to your organisational goal(s). Think about which stakeholders you need to have on board – now and in the future. Be mindful of the fact corporate communications are long term and nontangible. Be transparent and honest about your dilemmas. Using the above-described practical tips will help you define clear communication goals in line with your organisational goals.
By Marion Banide and Luus van Mierlo.
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Want to know more about corporate communication strategy?
If you want to find out whether your corporate communication strategy is best suited for your organisation, or you need help building a strategy, feel free to reach out to Marion Banide, account director at Hague Corporate Affairs.