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How to Develop a Communications Program

One of the more important initiatives that a corporate or marketing communicator has to craft and implement is a corporate communications strategy. This is a blueprint on how an organization will communicate its organizational objectives to its stakeholders. It also lays out how the company will deal with the various forms of communication it will disperse to both its internal and external publics.

In developing communications strategy, a corporate communicator has many things that have to be factored in. These include:

Statement of purpose

The statement of purpose simply details why a communications strategy was developed and what the company hopes to achieve from it. This acts as a reference for the corporate communication team that implements it. It may identify goals such as assisting the company achieve its organizational objectives, effectively engaging stakeholders, and making the general public understand the company’s main line of business.

Identify and craft messages for stakeholders

In this section, the corporate communicator will give a detailed description of the main audiences for both internal and external publics. Internal stakeholders are the officers and staff of the company as well as stockholders, while the external stakeholders are clients, suppliers, funding partners, and the general public.

After identifying the stakeholders, the next step in developing communications strategy is to break down objectives of the strategy into relevant messages that would be appropriate for each stakeholder. Ideally, the strategy begins with the audience that the team believes is of the highest priority (say for instance, the clients.)

Identify key communication messages and channels

Identifying available and appropriate channels is equally important in developing communications strategy. The communications plan should identify appropriate channels for communicating with every audience or stakeholder earlier identified.

For example, employees can be communicated through email, corporate newsletter, office bulletin board, intranet, and desktop alerts. In communicating with clients, press releases and company marketing collaterals may suffice. For the general public, communication channels that can reach out to more people such as the company website and the media (TV, radio, print, and other websites) should be tapped.

After identifying the available and appropriate channels for each stakeholder, the corporate communications team can start constructing the plan, formulating key messages, and linking audiences.

For example, a company trying to address its clients can focus on two key messages— that it provides useful and practical products and that it is trustworthy.

It is also possible that the same messages will be used in an internal PR campaign, but this time to instill among the employees that the company is being positioned as a provider of utilitarian products and that they should embody the firm’s branding of being reliable.

Creating the work plan

After identifying the audience and key communication messages and channels, the next step in developing a communications strategy is drawing up the work plan. This indicates the key communication activities, budget allocation, and time line.

The strategy should conclude with how the team will evaluate the program. This will help the team determine whether or not it has been able to achieve the objectives of the communications strategy. These could be in measurable terms such as number of hits to the company’s website, increased in sales, higher number of client inquiries, among others. Media coverage not just in terms of volume but breadth and depth may also be used to measure the success of the strategy.

Developing communications strategy is something every corporate communication team will have to deal with almost on a regular basis. A well-planned communications strategy puts the communication team in a better position to better promote its company and the products or services it provides, or an idea it wants to propagate.

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