Invest time in a communications strategy to tell the story of your business effectively.

Andy Cameron-Smith, managing director

To me, communications is all about reputation management. The role of a good communications function is to tell the story of an organisation effectively. I have always told the communications teams I have led that every working day they have two clear tasks to perform daily – the first is to protect the reputation of the organisation they work for, the second to enhance its reputation.

 

With the prolific number of communication channels now available it is important to stay in control of your organisation’s reputation. A simple mantra to live by is do not let other people tell the story of your organisation for you. A clear communications strategy helps with effective storytelling of your organisation and its activities.

 

Successful strategies require consistency. For communications strategies that means creating a constant flow of information about your organisation which is then shared with a variety of audiences. It is also important to think about your internal audience as well as your external one. Your own employees need to understand the story of the organisation they work for. 

 

Most importantly the communications strategy must be focussed on delivering the objectives of your organisation’s business plan. It cannot and should not operate in isolation. Communications for the sake of communications is seldom effective. If the proposed activity is not directly linked to delivering a defined objective of the organisation – don’t do it.

 

A communications strategy will help shape the message of the organisation and once defined; message discipline becomes important. Irrespective of your politics, the recent General Election and its outcome once again highlighted the importance of clear message discipline and how it can be very effective if followed correctly.

 

With objectives for communications activity in place, identify what you want to deliver as part of the strategy e.g. increased sales of a product, increased brand awareness, promotion of a key executive etc. and this will inform the tactics and channels you need to employ to deliver the message effectively. 

 

You often read articles about the importance of planning. Without a clear plan I find it hard to be successful. As a communicator, I would say the most important part of your communications activity is first to understand how communications can support the organisation’s business plan and then employ the appropriate tactics to deliver the message effectively. For me it does not work when you focus more on the tactics than the message. Never lose sight of why you are communicating in the first place.