As we noted in our blog on corporate communication strategy, there is a surprising number of organizations that don’t have a documented communication strategy. Here are three reasons why you should get to work on one if you don’t have it yet:
A corporate communication strategy is a contract
A corporate communication strategy is a contract – a deal – between management and the corporate communication department.
Why is this aspect important? Because all too often, communication departments are faced with “moving goalposts”.
All year long, the communication department dutifully communicates whatever is handed to them, juggling the many demands of HR, business, innovation, management. Your department is busy, but is it going somewhere? It can feel like you’re giving most of the attention to the loudest voices.
With no way to guide your efforts and no dashboards to track your results, it is hard to answer the question: “What have you achieved this year?”
Even worse, sometimes management will inform you at the end of the year that they have a feeling that your work is not aligned with the corporate strategy – or that they think “we should be a lot more visible on this or that channel”.
Having a strategy is an antidote for wandering goalposts. You can remind your internal stakeholders of the strategy, why it was put in place, and how you’re achieving it.
To put it bluntly, if you’re hitting your KPIs, then the “contract” requires your CEO to be happy with your work.
A corporate communication strategy is a mandate
Of course, a contract commits you to certain KPIs. But it also commits your management.
As long as you stay within the bounds of your strategy, nobody should micromanage your efforts. A strategy gives you and your team permission to act. It’s not management’s role to decide what, how or where you communicate, how often, using which channels.
A strategy brings your conversation with management to a strategic level (“how can we deliver the results the business needs”) rather than on an operational level (“why are we not on TikTok”).
It is also a mandate to say “no” to initiatives that don’t serve the strategy. The corporate communication department is not the post office for every department in the business – “communicate this”, “get that out the door”, “this is important for the business unit”.
A corporate communication should be in a position to decide with other internal stakeholders what gets a lot of attention, some attention and no attention.
Remember, strategy is more about saying “no” than saying yes. You need to focus your resources, not spread them thin on non-strategic actions.
A corporate communication strategy is a hypothesis
Finally, a strategy that has numbered KPIs in them allows you to test a hypothesis.
If we run two corporate brand campaigns on innovation in the top tier trade media, more stakeholders will think of us as an innovative player in the industry. We will support the campaigns with a LinkedIn budget and with YouTube pre-rolls to reach 100% of our target audience in our market and repeat them every quarter. We think these actions will raise our “innovation” attribute in the brand tracker by 5 percentage points.
That’s a testable hypothesis, but you (probably) won’t get it right the first time.
Some things that can happen:
- You didn’t manage the output you wanted – you only managed one campaign instead of two. What happened? Were you short on resources? Did someone interfere and ask you to something that wasn’t in the strategy? Did a crisis overwhelm the department?
- You manage to hit your output KPIs, but the innovation attribute doesn’t move as much as you would like. What happened? Did you focus on the wrong channels? Was the messaging off? Was the creative campaign not good? Is your budget too small? Was the ambition to raise the attribute by 5 percentage points too ambitious?
Defining testable hypotheses and then tracking the results is the best way to get better at setting realistic goals with your department – and delivering on the things that the company needs.