Antoinette Bonita Kamau is a seasoned Communication specialist with 20 years of progressive experience in PR & Communications with the private and public sector. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer & Lead Communications Consultant at Commken Afrique Ltd a PR & Communications Agency.
Strategy is the linchpin that makes communication effective in an organization. Without it, communication becomes an incoherent and inconsistent affair. Individual efforts of employees get diluted by disconnect and disharmony. Bad business decisions will routinely be made as decision makers do not have all the crucial information they need to decide.
With a sound strategy in place, a company is able to properly brand itself. Its mission and vision are easily discernible. Its goals are easier to reach as the strategy is aligned to business objectives. What is communicated, how its communicated and how conflicts are handled will all speak on the brand and showcase its direction clearly.
Customer experiences speak of how good a communication strategy a company has. A good experience means the company took the time to understand their customers and developed an engagement guide that taps into that understanding. It speaks well of the brand and positions it in a good trajectory for future successes. A culture of bad customer experiences can be a threat to the company’s survival as fewer and fewer customers will be lining up behind them.
Successful execution of activities calls for smooth flow of information among different stakeholders. This does not happen by accident. A well-thought out communication plan makes it possible. It creates a roadmap of how different stakeholders engage with each other and with other stakeholders. It stipulates how, for example, employees can update each other on tasks being done to ensure everyone is on the same page. It also, crucially, limits the type of information that can be divulged to different stakeholders. This prevents release of trade secrets or crucial information to competitors.
The bigger the business, the more stakeholders it has. This has the effect of creating several layers of complexity that makes communicating the right message to the right stakeholder at the right time a challenge. This can have adverse effects that can grind business operations to a halt. A good strategy will take this complexity into account in formulating a plan that ensures communication objectives are met and that such a business is able to successfully move forward.
When responding to a crisis, time is of the essence. Without a communication strategy in place, especially one geared towards responding to a crisis called crisis management plan, a lot of precious time will be wasted trying to formulate an adequate response. And with the pressure that comes with crises being immense, mistakes and blunders are bound to happen in responding to the crises with devastating consequences. A strategy is able to anticipate and prepare for crisis scenarios. A very good strategy will even go a step further to minimize the chances of a crises developing by, among others, regularly communicating health and safety guidelines in the workplace.
In business, same as in life, there is a continuous need to improve. Good communication strategies have metrics that measure effectiveness of a plan in meeting stated objectives. These metrics form the basis for continuous strategy improvement which leads to overall increase in business performance. The dynamic nature of business environments mean engagement with different stakeholders has to adapt to maintain or even improve its effectiveness.
A proper strategy places a business in a better position to take advantage of emerging stakeholder engagement trends. The business is able to adapt quickly to new technologies such as social media for even better communication. One is able to follow and reach key stakeholders such as customers where they are. Time can also be saved by reducing the need to repeat the same message to different stakeholders with the adoption of new technologies.
They say failure to plan is planning to fail. In business, the same is true in its communication. There needs to be a strategy in place that guides how the different stakeholders of a business are communicated. Otherwise, lack of such a coherent structure will be inviting trouble.