In a world where organisations recognise that they can’t do everything themselves and must work with a wider range of partners and suppliers than ever before, PR and communication should be part of your top line business strategy.
To start developing your communication strategy, identify the groups of people your business interacts with and whom you should consider when communicating. Customers are likely to be top of the list, but you should also consider your people, investors, suppliers, the people you want to do business with and the wider communities your business comes into contact with.
For each of those groups, determine what you want them to think and feel about you, and what actions you would like them to take. Decide whether you want to expand the size of that particular stakeholder group, where you’re likely to find them and how you might engage with them.
Key messages & evidence
Based on the audience and your objectives, determine what your key messages are for each audience. Prioritise three for each group and ensure that how you describe yourself is consistent.
Key messages are important because you will want to reiterate them time and again through your communication. It is through repeated exposure and repetition that they will become embedded in the minds of those you are looking to engage.
Backup your messages with proof points. You need to deliver them convincingly if they are to have impact, so be prepared to provide evidence for what you have to say.
If one of your messages is, for example, that you are the “leading provider of…” something or other, make sure you have robust statistics, expert endorsement or some other evidence to prove you are.
If a key message is that you can save customers money, think about which customers you can reference and the kind of savings you can claim. Pounds, pence and percentages savings attributed to a real individual at a respected customer are particularly compelling.
Finding opportunities to engage
When you know who you want to communicate with, what you want to say to them and the outcomes you desire, you can then get into the finer detail around how you engage with your audience.
At a basic level, these messages should form the core of your web presence. Pretty much all businesses would benefit from having a blog they can update themselves on a regular basis.
Communicate regularly and consistently through your social channels. Look on the web and social media for forums in which your audiences are active, share content and engage in conversation. Engage your audiences through traditional and online media by sharing news, thought leadership and other relevant materials.