15 Points to Get Corporate Communications on Track
Today’s corporate communications are complex. They’re no longer just broadcast messages from your organization to your customers and the public. Instead they’re one-to-many, one-to-one or many-to-many. These messages may be distributed via your internal media (such as your website, blog and print communications), third party media (such as television, newspapers and magazines) or user-generated media (such as social media networks). These exchanges may be created and disseminated by different departments and resources without centralized accountability. As a result, your corporate communications may lack a unified perspective, voice and/or branding. Even worse, there may be areas where you’ve no coverage leaving your organization vulnerable in today’s 24/7 always-on world.
5 Questions to get corporate communications on track
To ensure that your firm’s corporate communications are consistent with your business goals and brand, here are five key questions to get you on track. It’s helpful to answer them with a cross section of senior management to outline your corporate communications plan.
- What are your business goals? What do you want your company to accomplish? Think beyond your next sales hurdle. Go for bigger objectives.
- What does your brand stand for? Examine your brand’s attributes beyond just your logo. Specifically consider how your brand should sound in various communications situations? Who’ll represent your brand? Does it have a special vocabulary?
- Who’s your target market? Your firm’s target market(s) for your products may differ from the audience for each of your communications.
- Who is responsible for our corporate communications? Who owns the communications function? Who ensures there’s a communications plan and related strategies? Where do the resources report? Where does the budget reside? Responsibility, resources and budget may not be under one person or department. Communications requires support across the entire organization including marketing, PR, investor relations, human resources, technology, customer service, analytics and management.
- Do you have appropriate guidelines in place? Specifically, are using brand monitoring for company, brand and executive mentions so you can respond when appropriate. Additionally, you need social media guidelines and a crisis management plan.
10 Corporate communications elements to cover
Today’s dynamic interactions translate to more touchpoints requiring messaging. Here’s a ten point corporate communications checklist to get your company on track.
- Marketing. Since most marketing messaging falls outside the realm of communications, how are you going to incorporate communications including messaging prospects, customers and former customers? This is important especially if your organization needs to get messages out quickly and efficiently if there’s a crisis.
- Customer communications. Think non-marketing customer missives like billing, follow up and customer service. Often, these communications haven’t been reviewed since the software was installed. Most of these messages are sent automatically and the related technology’s too complex or old to change. By examining these messages, you’ll find opportunities for cross merchandising and promotion.
- Social media. Social media consists of content creation, message distribution and communications. This responsibility should not be left to an intern. It requires a strong understanding of your company and brands. Realize that it takes experience to represent to your firm. Also, determine how you’ll handle customer-generated information.
- PR. While PR includes a variety of different communications depending on the organization, at a minimum, it focuses on press relations extending to traditional media, events and bloggers.
- Executive platform. Whether the senior management, especially the CEO, handle their own communications, presentations and/or social media involvement or not, it’s critical to get input from at least one other executive to vet the content. You don’t want your executive team inadvertently saying something incendiary.
- External communications. This encompasses non-marketing messaging to your prospects, community and the pubic. Don’t overlook consistency in your email protocols especially where signature files are concerned. They can promote merchandise and social media.
- Internal communications. Especially with telecommuters and freelancers who are rarely on-site, think through how your firm keeps everyone informed and on track. Think beyond boring, easily-deleted emails. Consider ways to get everyone interacting to streamline your processes. Don’t forget suppliers and distributors. What do you need to communicate with them and who’s responsible?
- Human resources. Human resources is responsible for internal messaging about benefits and jobs. It’s also in charge of external job postings and representing the firm on job-related sites.
- Investor relations. Depending on the firm and how it’s incorporated, this highly targeted function may involve a board of directors and investors.
- Regulatory agencies. Your firm, depending on the industry, may have regulatory agencies that require communications and press releases.
To get your corporate communications plan on track, work with a cross section of your organization’s managers to determine your messaging goals and how they apply across touchpoints. Use this input to create a detailed communications plan with strategies and tactics that assigns responsibility for each of these activities.
Are there any other elements that you’d add to a communications plan? If so, please include them in the comments section below.
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