Nikki Jedlicka, Senior Consultant, Evans Consulting
The rampant circulation of misinformation in today’s digital age makes effective communication more important than ever, both internally with your employees and externally with your clients and stakeholders.
Effective communications strategies play a central role in an organization’s success. They lend credibility by promoting trust and transparency while providing crucial insight into ever-changing stakeholder needs. Without clear communication, your message can be lost or distorted, leaving your audience disengaged and threatening the success of your business.
Effective communication requires a skillful blend of art and science. There are several key elements to consider when developing an effective communications strategy. When combined with creative execution, the result is authentic engagement with an audience that not only understands your message but wants to hear more.
Check out the following six guidelines for developing your next communications strategy!
Speak in the audience’s voice—not your own. The purpose of strategic communications is to deliver an effective message in a way the target audience will understand. To accomplish this, your first guiding principle must be to listen and then translate your message into language that will resonate for different audiences. For instance, a highly technical company whose success depends upon government representatives will need be able to put science into politically relevant context. They will need to take yet another approach to communicate with the general public, using real-world examples to indicate the everyday value of technology. In other words, each stakeholder will have their own language, and it’s your job to engage effectively with all of them.
Be the first to tell your story, or someone else will tell it for you. Information travels fast, and it’s all too easy to fall behind. If the conversation gets started without you, it will be difficult to overcome already-formed opinions and influence your clients and their stakeholders. To stay ahead of your narrative, make sure to consistently prioritize your central message, stay current with industry chatter, and—as always—be proactive, not reactive.
Engage with your public. To communicate effectively, you can’t just share your content and then let it sit there. You need to stay relevant by participating in the ongoing conversation, whether it’s by responding to comments on a social media post, welcoming feedback, or following up with individuals you connected with at an outreach event. Relationship-building is one of the most important elements of successful public relations and an integral piece of an effective communications strategy. Remember to maintain momentum, or your message will be lost.
Be intentional. Although it’s important to speak up while a topic is hot, you also want to make sure that your contribution is meaningful. If your message feels rushed or inauthentic, you will only invite dismissal at best and outright controversy at worst. Careful research, deliberate planning, and purposeful engagement with a diverse workforce will help you avoid a rushed or insensitive response.
Keep it bite-sized. According to a study conducted by Microsoft in 2015, the average person only pays attention to online content for about eight seconds. Additionally, research by Nielsen indicates that people just scan web content rather than reading it in-depth. Whether you’re drafting a tweet, developing a press release, or creating content for a website, it is essential to convey your message with brevity.
Plan. Don’t wing it. It may seem obvious but formulating a communications plan forces you to think through your strategy and sets a standard for the rest of your organization. A good plan should hold you accountable, maintain your message alignment, and clearly define your stakeholders. Added bonus: A plan is the most proactive measure you can take to prepare for hurdles. It helps you anticipate risk factors so you are prepared to tackle them or—better yet—avoid them altogether. Be ready by drafting a solid plan, and you won’t have to dedicate excessive time and resources to reputation management.
At Evans Consulting, we believe that effective communication is the one true constant that lies at the heart of change. With our ability to understand both people and business processes, we help our clients craft communications tactics to manage change well.
In times of uniquely rapid and multifaceted transition, Evans can help your organization authentically adapt. Reach out and let us help you develop a plan that works for your unique challenges!