Communications is the single most important key to your Brand positioning, Brand awareness, Brand recognition and Brand association. Need I say more!
Whatever you may do – from providing medical care to creating an aspirational lifestyle; whatever you may wish to sell from air travel to Z-plus security, it must be communicated to your target audience. That is what Corporate Communications is all about - building and cementing relationships with your clientele and strategizing to deliver your Company message to them in the best possible ways that ensure easy relatability.
When the chips are down, companies often make the mistake of cutting corners in or completely eliminating activities that seem superfluous or ‘good-times’ functions such as advertising and public relations. But in the case of PR, they couldn’t go more wrong. For, it is in the dire times that you need a good mouthpiece to reclaim your positioning and hold on to your territory.
Above the line, below the line, subliminal, suggestive, word of mouth, through the drumbeats over a dense jungle - whatever be your mode of communication, your message must reach the intended lot. And it must be conveyed in the most creative manner with utmost clarity.
When in doubt about how to devise the most effective communication capsules, always remember to adhere to the 7 Cs of Communication – Be Clear, Concise, Concrete, Correct, Coherent, Complete and Courteous. With this simple formula you can never go wrong in ensuring maximum reach, frequency and penetration of your messages to the target audience.
As a CEO, you must ensure that your Company operates in an open atmosphere that encourages - along with prospects of growth, the milieu of respect, trust and belongingness - a culture of information sharing. This must be followed as a top to down approach so that every employee works in an inclusive environment and feels a sense of responsibility to do the same with his or her team. Not only does this working style build and equip all other brand ambassadors with enough information bases to represent the Brand with; this approach also provides an extremely fertile and fruitful foundation for a Communications person to operate from.
Corporate Communications is an integral senior management, strategy-level function. It must be kept in the know-how of all important things the Company is involved in for the following essential reasons –
1. To be able to communicate Company’s immediate messages in the most efficient way and to the right audience.
2. To devise the optimal strategy to cover a wide audience base, in a direct outreach, and with cutting down of any loss of resource and effort.
3. To be razor-sharp with requisite knowledge of the issues or turn of events so as to handle the crisis situations better, in order to ensure no or minimum damage to the Brand value.
4. To keep up the morale of the internal publics by thoughtful communications strategy encouraging employee engagement and sense of identification with the Brand.
Further, with changing times and innovation of new technologies, the rules of the game have changed. If you wish to remain a dynamic and pertinent player then you must adapt, learn and evolve in the face of new challenges, opportunities and practices. Premium amongst the current need is to internalize Web 2.0, internet-driven PR and Communication strategies and become adept at getting the Social Media to work for you as an able ally.
There have been recent cases, where a PR person’s short-sightedness and apparent gaffe on, even, their personal Facebook and Twitter pages have caused grief to their Company’s reputation and jeopardized the professional’s career.
With new Communication channels being gaping open doors, easily searchable, playing round the clock and with the propensity for information to be dug out of the archives with just a mere click, it becomes imperative that the Communications professional and all the other Company spokespeople are cautious, clear, honest, conscientious and with a global outlook in the way they communicate, not only professionally but also personally.
If Communication has the power to build a brand and keep it on top of the mind recall level, it also has the proclivity to break the brand and create reverse value in the minds of the publics.
So, for your Communications Strategy to be effective, here are some simple rules -
1. Communication capsules must hold value for the target audience.
2. Communication must be purposeful – strengthening the bond with the audience. Generating feel good sentiment and respect for the brand are great purposes to bear in mind.
3. Messages may not always be about business. They can also be corporate socially responsible. You must positively reckon that genuine CSR activities create lasting value for the Brand.
4. Communication must be bottom-line focussed. At the end of the day, you must endeavour to run a successful business and all your initiatives must dovetail into that plank.
5. Communication must be meaningful – Untrained, unprepared Brand representatives speaking mindlessly at external platforms just for the sake of occupying space or bandwidth on some media without conveying messages of value – both for the Company and the end user, cut an extremely sorry figure, bringing a bad rep to themselves and their Brand.
6. Communication must generate respect and strong identification in the Brand even from internal customers.
7. All brand ambassadors (read the entire employee base essentially, because one way or another each employee is an ambassador capable of propagating your brand value) must be trained to understand the Company ethos and convey it to the world at large, through their words, actions, demeanour and Brand association.
Still, being in Communications you are the chief custodian of the Brand. And with direct access to the media, you are the key Brand Ambassador.
Therefore, the best Communications Strategy for any Company would involve the following essential aspects – It bears value for the Brand and its products, carries a promise of service delivery, is coherent and customer-engaging, reliable and realistic and is delivered in a timely fashion.
With all the Communication tools and PR strategies at your disposal, you are in that enviable position to build a brand and reinforce its image consistently in the minds of the relevant publics.