Most companies take communication for granted. On the other hand, others do not have a communication service. Most companies hire someone to do technical work, like social media posting and poster design. Effective communication goes beyond this and encompasses strategic communication. First, communication must be embraced by senior management. Second, the communications director must be involved at the executive or strategic level. Strategic communication is at the heart of any organization.
Communication should be intentional and planned. The company should not be faulted. Communication builds a great brand and great relationships. Yes, a company can build its brand using products, but communication is about the brand. Before a negative wave, a company must have a plan that communicates with its stakeholders, customers and all internal and external audiences. For the past few days, we have learned from Nyaradzo Funeral Services who have been caught off guard on social networks. Now what they are trying to do is put out the fire. Unfortunately, their strategy was not effective. It’s been trending on Twitter all week for the wrong reasons. What they need now is a communications strategist.
Before the organization starts speaking or communicating, it needs to be clear about its audience. A communication strategist or consultant must rely on crucial questions such as: Who is my client/audience? This lists all internal and external constituencies and dissects things like demographics, language, behavioral economics/tastes, education level, and location. What relationship do you have or do you intend to establish with your customers? What does the customer already know about us? After doing your audience analysis, we then create the communication objectives.
Communication objectives are the backbone of the communication plan. Goals are built around the target audience. They specify what needs to be communicated, with a specific intent. Objectives specify the reason for the intention. It then becomes easy to know the appropriate channels to use.
Communication channels define the best platform to reach your audience or customers. A difference in audience will result in a relevant place to communicate. For example, if an NGO needs to reach an older age group in rural areas, it could use support groups or a radio station that has a wider reach in Zimbabwe. If I want to reach the youth age group, I could use social media. There are different channels to achieve different performance results. These channels include employee forums, social media, radio, television, email, magazines, newsletters, newspapers, department meetings, and the website.
The person who communicates a message is very important and determines the impact. Objectives will determine who speaks or delivers a message. Recently we have seen companies using social media influencers. That’s fine, but it does have an impact if the influencer’s moral is all over the place. Choose the right person.
A great message can be published at the wrong time. A bad message can be sent at the right time, but produce a negative output. A great message should be sent in no time. Thus, the communication strategist must master the times and the seasons. The timing of a message requires speed and agility.
The times have changed. There should be an intentional communication strategy for each organization. What should you do? Every organization should have a communications department with communications experts. Hire a communications consultant or strategist to conduct a communications audit, assessment, or analysis. Think of communication as part of management or leadership.
Jonah Nyoni is an author, speaker and leadership trainer. He can be reached on Twitter @jonahnyoni. WhatsApp: +263 772 581 918