Effective strategic communication requires clarity so the first priority is for your communications strategist to gain a close understanding of your immediate communications objectives within the context of your organisation’s drivers and the various stakeholder groups you interact with. But it’s possible to be ‘too close’. Business owners and management are often so deeply embedded in the complexities of their business that they struggle to decide what information is essential to impart and what is best withheld or hinted at. As a rule, external stakeholders do not have time to become experts in your business so it is important to provide sufficient detail to facilitate understanding and inspire credibility without obscuring the essential message with unnecessary complexity.
With a good understanding of your circumstances, your strategist should be in the position to suggest an approach for achieving your goals – defining content, tone, media, budget etcetera.
With a signed-off strategy in place, the next step is to assemble content source material: data, descriptions, images, video etcetera. This is the ‘raw material’ from which your strategist will craft content so the more the better.
Now (last but not least) is the time for the clever words. Words that clarify complexity. Words that engage their target audience, that enhance credibility and trust. Words that suggest, guide and persuade.
Those words must also reflect your culture. Having worked for a family controlled business established in 1804 (with billions in annual revenue), for start-ups a few months old (with no revenue at all), and for multinationals with encyclopaedic brand standards manuals I take the view that each business has a distinctive ‘voice’ which can and should be maintained and reinforced (or, more rarely, modified).
At any given point in time, your communications needs will include both overt information delivery and subtle nuance. Each piece of communication must balance those immediate priorities with enduring brand and culture. Your target audience will, of course, have their own objectives, preconceptions and constraints. These also need to be understood so that your message can be crafted to engage their interest. The solution involves finding what journalists and authors call ‘the hook’, the central idea with which to engage the target audience and around which to build the message.
I offer a voracious propensity to dig deeper to understand your business and then to help shape and craft your messaging.
I also offer absolute discretion. With over a decade in international investment banking prior to shifting to consulting services, and several decades as an active investor, I have an acute appreciation for the commercial sensitivity of information. With ASX listed companies among my clientele I understand price materiality and the delicate balance of commercial in confidence v’s continuous disclosure.
Often your message will be delivered electronically via website, email or social media, and sometimes it will be printed but at times it will require a personal touch, whether in closed meetings or public forums. I am equally comfortable operating completely behind the scenes (giving you content to deliver), or alternately presenting your case to shareholders, financiers, counterparties or government sector representatives on your behalf.
If I have managed to pique your curiosity, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or to arrange an audio or video call.