All of the communication in your organization, from an internal email to an external ad, should align with a corporate communication strategy. That way, your business can share a cohesive message that aligns with your business goals. A corporate communication strategy framework enables all the employees in your organization to follow the directives in your strategy.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
The corporate communication strategy framework is the foundation for all of the messaging in your company, both internal or external.
Role of a Corporate Communication Strategy Framework
Whether you run a business with two employees or 200, having a corporate communication strategy can help you to create and send messages that resonate with your various audience groups. A framework is a system that helps your business to put your communication strategy into action on a long-term basis.
The corporate communication framework definition is that it enables the right information to be dispersed to the right audience by the right communication channel. It is the foundation for all messaging, whether internal or external. The corporate communication strategy framework outlines the priorities and directives, connecting them to larger business goals.
Essentially, the framework acts as a map to successful corporate communication. It does not provide all the instructions for getting to the destination, but it builds the systems required so that employees can navigate to where they need to go.
Prioritize Business Goals
When developing a corporate communication strategy framework for your business, it’s important to begin by prioritizing your company’s goals. What are the most important things you want to achieve with your business this year? Your corporate communication strategy should be designed to help you do that.
For example, if one of your goals is to increase your brand’s awareness in your current market, then your corporate communication strategy framework may include external elements such as online content marketing and social media outreach. On an internal level, it may include training customer-facing employees on talking points to encourage referrals. The framework should outline what key points you want all messaging to include and how you can tailor specific marketing communications material to the audience to whom you’re speaking.
It’s important that the goals of your corporate communication strategy be aligned with the goals of your organization. They need to work together, not in competition with one another.
Understand Various Audience Needs
A business has multiple audiences who each have unique interests and needs. The same messaging cannot be shared with all audiences. An effective corporate communication strategy framework recognizes the need to conduct audience research to understand what kind of information should be shared with each group.
Internal audiences include company leaders, middle management and frontline employees. They can also be grouped by function or business group. The kind of information that can be shared with the executive team may not be the same as what can be shared with frontline employees. It’s important to take into account seniority, function, confidentiality and individual goals when figuring out what to communicate internally.
Externally, there are many parties with whom a business may communicate, including prospects, customers, partners and suppliers, investors and the media. Each group will need to know different types of information and may be reachable only by specific communication channels. The corporate communication strategy framework should outline what kind of messaging is designed for each audience and specify when and how it can be communicated.
Listen to Frontline Employees
It’s important to include feedback from frontline employees in your corporate communication strategy framework. They deal with customers on a daily basis and may have insight that company leadership doesn’t, especially when it comes to customer sentiment and awareness.
It’s also important to understand what employees want to know about the company itself. Do they feel the leadership team isn’t sharing enough about the direction of the company, or do they want more information about how many employees are going to be hired this year?
Through internal surveys and interviews, you can discern what kind of information your employees want to see in your corporate communication strategy framework.
Conduct Customer Surveys
The voice of your customers and prospects should also be a key part of your corporate communication strategy framework. What do they want to know, what information is missing from their knowledge about your company and what do you want to persuade them to do?
When businesses develop their corporate communication strategy framework, they should consult their customer profiles and review demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioral information about their prospects and customers. Their needs, wants, goals, motivations, fears and behavior will inform the messaging the company should share.
Research Stakeholder Feedback
Other stakeholders, such as suppliers, partners, investors and the media also play a large role in the success of the business. As a result, the corporate communication strategy framework should outline key messaging for each group that aligns with the overall company goals.
For example, when building brand awareness, the framework may include a media outreach campaign that focuses on the company’s commitment to sustainability, which is a hot topic these days.
Know That the Message Is Always Evolving
The corporate communication strategy framework is not written in stone. It is a constantly evolving business tool that reacts to internal and external forces. For example, if there is an internal change in direction, the strategy will need to adjust to include the new messaging for employees. If there is a shift in the market toward a preference for a specific kind of manufacturing process, then the external messaging needs to evolve to include that.
It’s important to constantly monitor internal and external activity in order to know whether the corporate communication strategy framework is helping the business to meet its overall goals.
Include Aspirational Objectives
The corporate communication strategy framework is future-oriented and aspirational, motivating the company to reach its objectives. It should be written in an encouraging and inspiring manner in order to rally employees.
In a sample communication strategy and plan for a company that is trying to increase profitability, the internal language may be about increasing employee efficiency, working more productively and improving key functional skills. Externally, the message may focus on achieving the goal of reducing the cost of each customer acquisition. For example, the messaging could encourage prospects to purchase two units of the product at a time instead of one and save one for a rainy day or give one to a friend.
Have Tangible Directives
While it’s important for the corporate communication strategy framework to look to the future and offer a long-term view, it also needs to provide some tangible direction. While the framework is not a full action plan and does not take the place of one, it offers a starting point with tactical direction.
For example, if a company has a goal of staying top of mind for customers, the framework can outline a few specific methods of achieving that goal, such as creating a monthly online newsletter, developing a customer email nurture series and starting a social media account with company updates.
Evaluate Success and Make Improvements
Since the corporate communication strategy framework is constantly evolving, it also needs to evaluate the success of the messaging it is promoting. Including two-way communication channels to solicit both internal and external feedback is a key element of this strategy.
Employees need to be able to have a way to provide the organization with feedback on its internal communication. Similarly, customers, partners and other stakeholders need to have infrastructure where they can offer feedback on messaging and communication channel methods.
Businesses should take the feedback into account when working on any corporate communications activities to ensure that the messaging always resonates with the various audience groups.
- Finn Agency: How to Build a Corporate Communication Strategy: A Step-by-Step Guide
- Watermark: How to Build a Strong Corporate Communication Strategy
- Think Parallax: What Is a Communication Framework and Why Do You Need One?
- City of Kawartha Lakes: Corporate Communications Strategy
- Writology: Effective Corporate Communication Strategy
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.