People no longer are satisfied with accepting the corporate line, increasingly they are demanding to hear directly from authentic leaders who are willing to stand-up and champion issues that they genuinely care about – shifting away from being purely profit focused.
A 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that trust in businesses and CEOs around the world is continuing to decline, with 20 of the 28 markets they surveyed being placed in distrust territory. However, in contrast to a similar survey last year, there is renewed confidence in experts, notably technical experts and academics as well as a fast recovering belief in CEOs, rewarded for speaking out on issues.
For organisations who are willing to support their managers and senior leaders become effective communicators, the benefits can be significant. A Towers Watson study found that companies with highly effective communications practices see 47% higher returns to their shareholders.
Delivering a strategic communications programme that inspires and engages both employees and external stakeholders alike requires three things:
- A communications team that is trusted and empowered
- Active support and input from the c-suite
- Support and training to help managers become effective communicators
With leadership working in partnership with their communications teams effective engagement strategies can be implemented that are sustainable and deliver long-term benefits.
Key benefits include:
Delivering business objectives – a strategic communications programme should be closely aligned with a business’ overall business goals. Too often activity is focused on immediate targets rather than sustained growth and brand engagement.
Greater trust and loyalty – a company where leaders and managers are active communicators improve engagement internally and but is more likely to help the business build a loyal following of clients and customers.
Improved innovation – in organisations that foster a culture of open communications, employees are more likely to share ideas and collaborate. That goes beyond the office walls and into wider industry too.
Career progression – being an effective communicator has been shown to enhance career progression. Motivating teams by speaking on their terms helps them deliver business critical activity while being able to communicate up to the board room shows leadership aptitude.
Increased productivity – thinking and communicating strategically makes you and the people around you more productive. Less time is wasted on non-essential tactics and more focus is placed on activity that delivers the greatest gains.
Five things to consider to become a more effective communicator
1. Communicate for your audience not for yourself
It is all too common to start from a position of what is it I want to say. Rather than what does my audience need to hear? Think about who you’re communicating to and how best to share information.
2. Stay focused on your core messages
It’s very easy to try cram in as much as you can into your communications but, this dilutes your overall message. Work out what it is you want people to remember, and more importantly what you want them to tell others and focus on that.
3. Say it again, and again
You might be sick of hearing yourself saying the same thing but the chances are most of your audience won’t remember the first time they hear or saw the details. People remember information in different ways too so find ways to share your story in different formats – video, written, graphical etc.
4. Think long-term gain as well as short-term need
As a business, it’s easy to be pulled into short-term tactics to address immediate requirements – whether that be to achieve a monthly sales target or address a immediate issue. While that’s an important part of PR, it needs to be underpinned by a sustained longer-term strategy.
5. Build a pool of ambassadors
All too often we continue to communicate with the same people we always have. We forget to look up and see who else could be a positive influencer. Taking a more strategic approach to who you are engaging with can bring fresh perspective but also generate leads from new sources.