Corporate communication issues are not a rare problem. In fact, the cost of poor communication in businesses has globally reached over $37 billion per year. That’s a substantial problem to have.
So what’s the solution?
Communication strategies litter the internet, but few of them are actual lucrative solutions. Fixing a corporate communication issue is not a quick or simple process– it takes research, strategy, and time.
If you’re looking for an in-depth guide to addressing and solving communication issues in a business, you’re in luck. We put together a guide to building a corporate communication strategy to suit your own business, so you can reach your communication goals.
There are several aspects of building a core corporate communication strategy: Pre-drafting information and research, actually creating the strategy, and taking the time to examine examples of excellent communication strategies for inspiration and further research.
How to Build a Core Strategy for Communication
These steps should be considered regardless of your corporation’s industry:
1. Identify and prioritize your business executives’ key goals
Start this step by understanding what each executive in your company sees in the company’s future, and what they’re really invested in. The best way to discover and collect this information is by conducting individual interviews with as many of your top-level management as possible, as well as the C-Suite. Ask these executives to clearly identify their top priorities for the next year and take the time to make sure everyone is in sound agreement as to the message they want to put out.
2. Conduct in-depth employee surveys
Your business’ employees are at the forefront of your company and are the backbone of the business as a whole. Their perception of the company and your brand is key to how others perceive your brand. This is also how brand ambassadors are made. When developing an effective corporate communications strategy, you will need to make sure that this group’s voices are heard. Their responses will ultimately dictate the best way to communicate with them as a whole. Take advantage of surveys to get employees involved and get their feedback.
3. Research your stakeholders’ input
If stakeholders, shareholders, and investors are communicating something that isn’t very confident or exciting for your business’ success and upcoming plans, the communications strategy you create must fix that perception as quickly as possible. Stakeholders are absolutely the most vital part of your business, and it is very important to communicate with them in a way that is most effective for their interests.
4. Review your established customers’ comments
Take full advantage of all of the (often free) online measurement tools available to take an inside look into your customers’ perception of how your business is delivering on promises. Take advantage of social media networks to not only take advantage of social listening and research, but also to start the right conversations that get consumers and potential customers talking about your brand in a positive way.
5. Include your suppliers in your research
Suppliers that work with your business should also be brought into the mix when gathering information for your strategic corporate messaging. Do your suppliers believe that being affiliated with your business is beneficial to their own business? If the answer is yes, you’re in the clear– but ask them what they are enjoying the most about working with your company. Use that valuable feedback to not only add structure to your vendor and supplier relationships but also to use as part of your corporate communication strategy.
All of this research and interviewing processes are incredibly valuable. With these new insights into what your employees, executives, suppliers, and stakeholders want and prefer, you now know what your corporate communications strategy needs to set out to do– and where it will really fit in the broader framework of the company.
The next step would be to build an essential “roadmap” of the strategy. Before you jump into the diagnosis and guiding policies, you’ll need to figure out how to arrive at these concepts. Ask yourself: What are the biggest problems that the strategy will ultimately diagnose and hopefully cure? Who is going to be the ultimate deciding factor in establishing this diagnosis? Will everyone who needs to agree, actually agree on the strategy or “treatment”?
For smaller brands and corporations, this is often easy to do. For bigger companies, it can be a bit more complicated.
Executives on the C-level as well as the board level should be motivated but also challenged by your business’ corporate communication team to make good use of the vision for the purpose of management. The vision, in this sense, shouldn’t be a mess– it needs to be solidified and sensible. This is the responsibility of all of your executives as a team. If your executives are focused mainly on one goal, then it is partly their responsibility to form a solid vision. Once this is accomplished, the business’ corporate communication team can deliver that solid communication that is needed.
Tips for Crafting an Excellent Communication Strategy
These tips may not be ideal for all businesses but are worth considering when drafting your strategy.
1. Look at other corporate communication strategies online from successful businesses
It may be worth looking at some examples of excellent communication strategies in order to get inspired or possibly use their strategy as a starting template. Keep in mind that communication problems are often very unique to their specific company– using a carbon copy plan will definitely not work and the research will still need to be done.
2. Identify what your key metrics are in order to track for the best outcome
Just like most other aspects of your company, your internal communication strategy can and should be thoroughly analyzed for success. To do this, you will need to gather the basic key metrics that can show you if your current strategy is actually working the way it should. Statistics found around your corporate communications can show you if your employees actually use your intranet or other communication tools provided.
This research also shows how employees are using your tools and if you’re able to reach them in the process. This ultimately means you can pick apart your strategy and learn more about what aspects and areas need more strategic attention and what can be let go as a whole. If you’re a startup without an established corporate communication strategy, then this doesn’t apply to you.
3. Set goals that make sense and are realistic, as well as timelines
Setting realistic goals that make sense for your company will help you properly and accurately estimate the level of difficulty and projected time investment of integrating and establishing your strategy. This way, you can make more efficient and worthwhile steps closer to updating your corporate communications effectively. You can do this by looking at the previous metrics and making notes of where you think you can make an instant impact through attentive change.
When it comes to timelines, they should be effective. You could try to conduct surveys to see what information or data is too excessive and unnecessary for the business. Ask questions like:
- What do I want my internal communications strategy to do for my business?
- Which areas are working efficiently, why are those areas working efficiently, and what needs immediate improvement?
- How quickly do I want to reach my business goals for the company?
- What communication tools, platforms, and strategies are available given my organization’s size, needs, and goals for what employees should be doing?
Whatever answers you get can make it much clearer what your corporate communications strategy is supposed to actually accomplish. These goals can be a sort of blueprint if you will.
4. Put more emphasis on your company relationships and personal connection
Obviously, there is a need for a corporate communications strategy because internal relationships and personal connections are important for a business to run smoothly. One way you can create improved internal communications is by remembering and actively practicing this mantra: Be with someone, not their problem. This approach tends to put more of an emphasis on the business relationship and personal connection as an organic living thing– a good relationship involves being present, listening, and wanting to maintain a connection. When a personal connection is established, it becomes much easier to resolve conflicts between employees or executives and avoid them altogether.
The real goal of corporate communications strategies is to make miscommunication between all members of an enterprise virtually non-existent.
5. Use collaboration tools and actively encourage their use
If you’re juggling way too many projects within a team that has a significant amount of team members, just using email for communication isn’t always the most effective thing to do. Luckily, there is quite a massive amount of collaboration tools out there that are useful, effective, and relatively inexpensive. Some collaboration tools to consider implementing into your strategy include Trello, Slack, Asana, Flowdock, WebEx, Dapulse, ProofHub, and Redbooth to name a few.
It may even improve employee communication even more by completely removing email as a means of corporate correspondence. Using a collaboration tool of the digital workspace may be the better mode of communication that serves as a “one-stop dashboard” for all communication needs. A couple of popular digital workspaces include Microsoft Teams, RingCentral Glip, Beekeeper, FWI, and Interact Software.
6. Actively participate in your teams– even if you’re the CEO
This is definitely easier to do naturally in small businesses, where it is easy to know the entire team personally. In bigger companies, this can be a bit tougher to successfully do. Still, a part of your corporate communication strategy should include your own responsibility to communicate effectively with the whole of your company. The best way to improve success rates is to be a part of the team yourself. Nobody is really interested in listening to the man or woman in the ivory tower, especially when we’re looking at tech companies. You will not be able to effectively communicate with your employees or build any rapport by avoiding them like the plague. Learn how your executives and colleagues communicate with one another and try your best to adapt to that style of communication. It is definitely possible to maintain your authority and communicate effectively with your company’s backbone at the same time.
7. Align your corporate communications strategy to goals and metrics
Take a well-thought-out and strategic approach to employee communications that implement a communication strategy that aligns with your brand’s business goals. Targeting communications to relevant foundational employees by using target audiences, managers, and communicators will ultimately enable you to facilitate more substantial and more engaging employee communications within your business.
It’s vital to not forget to build metrics and analytics into your corporate communication strategy in order to evaluate the strategy’s success. Subjective methods such as employee surveys are always useful and definitely need to be a part of your strategy, but your research shouldn’t only rely on them.
8. Make your company culture a culture of communication
Improving corporate communications, especially employee communications, will always start with the business making a conscious and passionate decision to create a culture of communication throughout the entirety of the company. This ultimately involves committing to transparency as an executive or CEO and putting systems and practices in place that support continuous dialog between employees and their management teams.
The power of dialogue and conversation can absolutely transform a company’s culture and ultimately the business’ financial results. A workforce that is communicating effectively with produce better output and improve the business overall. This is the purpose of a corporate communications strategy, but that strategy will be useless if those in charge don’t commit to creating a culture in real life, not just on paper.
Building a corporate communication strategy is essential if you want your business to succeed. Connect with VP Legacies to learn how to apply these strategies and more, while increasing your employee and customer retention.
Related: What is the Best Strategy for CEO Communication?