The complexity of today’s business environment requires solid messaging strategies. If companies are not dealing with financial issues, they likely find themselves challenged by a changing regulatory and political environment, scaled back workforce and fewer resources. Yet, customer expectations are higher and the demand for transparency is stronger.
Leaders are leaning on PR professionals, both inside and outside their companies, to help develop effective messages for a wide variety of situations that resonate with a growing list of stakeholders, not just shareholders.
It is tempting to rely on traditional approaches to messaging that worked well in the past when the more linear model of communication ruled the day. But in today’s world, communication often occurs without the involvement of the organization itself. Compounding the complexity is the exploding number of digital channels that have given rise to countless new communities and further enabled 24/7 conversations about companies.
Too often, messages are designed to respond to a current situation, falling far short of communicating what organizations need and stakeholders demand. Developing a more strategic approach to messaging can help ensure communication will resonate with stakeholders and accomplish the organization’s larger goals. The following is a sampling of points to consider when crafting organizational messages:
Align messages with organizational goals
- What are leadership’s goals with stakeholders?
- What are the needs and interests of stakeholders that must be fulfilled?
- How do leaders believe they are doing in the eyes of stakeholders?
Consider the context
- What are the relevant issues in the larger business environment?
- Is something similar happening to competitors or just your organization?
- Was this something we caused or that happened to us via external forces?
Anticipate reaction / acknowledge different viewpoints
- Who thinks differently than you do on this issue?
- How will detractors criticize us?
- Is there common ground to be found?
Preserve relationships with key stakeholders/ Earn trust through timely response
- Who needs to be communicated with and in what order?
- When should you respond?
- What is the opposition doing?
- How available and prepared is your spokesperson(s)?
Present a credible and reasonable voice to stakeholders
- Who are your subject matter experts?
- Who has credibility with stakeholders?
- Are there third party spokespersons you can use to add a new dimension?
What kinds of challenges does your team face in creating compelling messages? Let us know what has worked for you – and what hasn’t – in the comments section below. You may also tweet us your thoughts on Twitter at #mcgblog.