Planning for a corporate communication strategy is a daunting but very critical task as it will direct your business’s branding and image to stakeholders and consumers alike. Furthermore, it helps ensure your internal communication function stays relevant and responsive to the needs of your business. But for many of starting businessmen, coming up with a yearlong direction, let alone a communication strategy, is very confusing.
To help you start, consider this guide as a framework for success. Treat it as like a checklist of some sort.
1. Map the present situation.
To have a clearer direction and a stronger strategy, it’s important to see where the company currently stands. An expansive picture of the current state of the organization – how it looks and works – makes sure all major issues are covered. To capture this picture, ask your planning group to describe the current state of the organization and pool answers, grouping similar answers together and discussing them for clarity.
One approach to determining the present situation might be to do a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the organization. Strengths and Weaknesses are internal factors, while Opportunities and Threats external.
Looking at how the company is doing currently can open to various recommendations points where the corporate communication strategy can focus on.
2. Agree on a corporate communication vision.
After assessing how you are currently doing, it’s now time to identify where you want to head. The end-goal should always be the basis of your strategy. Envision the elements of an idealized future – how you want the internal communication function to look, feel and operate a year from now. Since it’s an organization, you must also consult with your employees and key stakeholders to envision your future state.
This vision will help you identify where you should invest and improve on.
3. Develop actionable objectives.
Every corporate communication strategy must have objectives. A vision is more conceptual while an objective is more actionable. Each objective should consider available human and financial resources, programs, products or services that must be allocated to achieve the goal.
Make sure each objective is SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. At the end of the year, you determine if your strategy is successful after checking if the objectives are met. Furthermore, you can also check if your objectives makes sense if after fulfilling everything, the vision is still not achieved.
4. Have the right set of tools.
There are a lot of tools that can be used in streamlining and strengthening your strategy but we recommend the What/How/Who model. This What/How/Who Model might seem simple on hindsight but mapping your initiatives against it shows how relevant it can be, and builds the case for integration.
What pertains to the messages and experiences you want to create, How is the medium you use to create them, while Who refers to the people you need to reach in order to improve the business.
The What/How/Who Model requires that plans be developed at each of the following levels:
The What of your corporate communication strategy requires Category Plans. This captures decisions about the nature of different corporate and consumer messages. Simply put, reasons why a consumer should buy your product, or information about your company.
The How of your communications requires Channel Plans for identifying the right vehicles in delivering your message. For example, you might favor social media over traditional media if you’re hoping to reach a Generation Y employee.
The Who of your corporate communication strategy requires Audience Plans for the target consumer you want to reach. This identifies specific objectives and strategies for a particular group — investors, for instance. It will allow you to plan and measure explicitly for them.