Is it time for a checkup of your communications strategy? Do you even have a formal strategy?
All too often the conversation turns to tactics you’re used to by your chamber or association—news releases, tweets, and speaking engagements, for example. To be sure, you want to utilize the right tactics.
It’s important to realize, however, that those methods must be guided by a comprehensive and organized communications strategy.
Driving Bottom Line Outcomes
Effective organizational communication means little by itself. Who cares if your CEO can talk pretty? The bottom line involves…well…the bottom line. Implementation of your communications strategy must support your overarching organizational goals, be they financial, reputational, or public policy-oriented. Successful businesses plot their strategy with the goal of influencing consumers, members, the media, lawmakers, and other target audiences.
If you hope to gain those critical benefits, your communications strategy and your message must be unassailable when you reach out to consumers, members, journalists, and opinion shapers.
If it’s not, your chamber had best be willing to assume plenty of risk. It’s the same for your members in their businesses. Organizational reputation, long-range business goals, and executives’ careers hang in the balance.
Here’s a good strategic starting point: Honestly ascertain your communications strengths and challenges. Focus on strengths first, for that is where you are likely to see the quickest and easiest progress. Then knock off your challenges one at a time; never overload yourself by trying to jump too many hurdles at once. It’s the way smart chamber and association executives approach things.
Keeping Your Strategy on Course
There are several situations that can lead your efforts astray. Stay alert for these alarm bells as you set your strategy:
- A CEO dissatisfied with organization-wide message development and delivery.
- Communications, government relations, finance, and marketing teams that refuse to play nice together.
- A chamber that labors to identify its communications risks and opportunities.
- An association that needs better professional development options for its workers.
- An issue expert who, out of fear, declines media interviews that could boost one of your member’s reputations.
- The executive with a critical speaking or media interview opportunity in the offing.
- Signs that your onboarding process for communications and government relations staffers is far from smooth.
- Communications staff members who tiptoe around matters when advising C-suite leaders.
- A government relations department that needs to improve the performance of its advocates during legislative fly-ins or drive-ins.
Take a cold-eyed assessment and ask what situations might cause your communications planning efforts to go sideways.
Preserving Your Reputation and Your Career
Remember, a good communications blueprint inures to the bottom line. Smart chambers and associations—and their members—recognize that their reputations, business goals, and executives’ careers are in jeopardy when they see the warning signals flashing.
The critical takeaway: Devote time to setting your communications strategy before barreling through with the tactics. It’s what smart organizations do.