A communication is strategic if it makes an impact on the organization. Many understand Strategic Communication as only the writing of vision and mission statements, objectives, values and strategies as well as public relations publications announcing important messages to the public and marketing campaigns and adverts etc. In as much these are true and part of Strategic Communication, most often the impact such communication can have on the organization is not assessed when they are being put together or reviewed later when the communication has been done.
Writing on visions, missions, objectives, values etc. can make an impact in the sense that it will announce the what the company is about and what is out to offer to the public so that those who will need the company’s services or who would want to invest or do business with the company can approach the company. But if care is not taken, the benefit of this strategic communication will just be limited to people approaching the company and the other aspects as the company growing in profits and market share will be limited.
Using the example above, a company may attract one or two investors or customers on its announcement of its mission, vision, objectives as well as services to the public but such customers or investors may either leave the company or be disappointed to see that the company is not growing affecting their investment or affiliation.
For example, if a customer or investor gets attracted to a company by way of an announcement of its vision, mission etc or a press release annonuncing its product and a staff doesn’t receive the customer or investor in such a way to retain him, the company can lose the customer or investor.
So after announcing a company’s plans etc, the company is supposed to ensure that the communication in any area of the organization is such that it will have a positive impact on the company.
For example, a staff who has an intention of making a positive impact on his or her company through the provision of good customer service will implement some communication strategies like smiling to the customer, speaking in a language the customer can understand, being polite with the customer, encouraging the customer to ask questions and at the end of the session making the customer walk away with a smile. With such an experience, the staff would have used strategic communication effectively in the sense that the experience will make the customer have a good impression on the company leading to customer retention and also will lead the customer to endorse the company to others. So every strategic communication should have an impact making objective in mind.
From the above, this extract from wilkepedia fits a good definition for strategic communication. The extract says “Communication is strategic when it is completely consistent with the organization’s, mission, vision, values and when it is able to enhance the strategic positioning and competitiveness between their competitors (retrieved 23rd March 2017). We can add this other extract from Grupp W.R (2022) which states that “Communication is strategic when an organization applies communication systematically and consistently to assist in achieving its goals and objectives. In other words, strategic communication is defined by an outcome and achieving a goal and working back from there.
Now that strategic communication has been defined as using communication strategically to make an impact, what are some ways we can ensure that our strategic communication is making an impact?
One of the basic and most important ways to ensure effective strategic communication is to look at communication internally. Management must ensure that they highlight the communicative aspects of their policies to the staff and challenge the staff to use creative communication strategies to aid in achieving the objective. For example, management may have an objective of expanding in a few years. This plan should be communicated to the staff and the staff encouraged to use good communication strategies as smiling, politeness, speaking the language customers’ can understand etc.. to make customers happy so that they are retained and also endorse the company to others so that the customers can keep growing leading to the company eventually being able to expand. Managers must ensure that everyone in the organization understands the strategy to meet the objectives and can effectively articulate the objective. Managers should challenge staff to be creative and innovative with communication strategies as this will come with mutual benefits. Employees these days want to be associated with workplaces that will give them the opportunity to enhance their potential in contributing to the adaptation talked about above. Fouse D (2020) gives some statistics that 94% of employees today want a job that fosters continual learning and personal growth, with a vast and ever growing majority of employees preferring agile, flexible, supportive and purpose-driven workplaces.
In addition to pushing for the need for creativity in the organization, there is also the need for harmony to be created in the organization to enhance the creativity talked about above. Everyone should be happy so they can give off their best. In that vein, the organizational structure can be altered such that the workflow moves directly from the highest to the least person in the organization and everybody understands how his or her efforts contribute to the overall vision, mission and objectives of the organization. When workers are happy, they stand for the organization. In a recent survey on happy employees, 77% said when they encountered incorrect rumours about their organization they try to refute and correct them. 65% also said they often said good things about their organization. Where there isn’t harmony a staff can work poorly as a result of wrong perception towards his superiors.
A company should also review its all-round strategies: e.g Crisis Communication Strategy (maybe the department responsible ensures that everyone in the department reassures the complainant that the issue will be tackled within a number of hours), Marketing Communication Strategy (maybe making the customer always happy), and all their other strategies once in a while to see if they can be improved.
Finally, it is imperative to add that for the communication strategies to be very effective, the processes and the products and services of the organization should also be great to match the effective communication being put out there. For example, a communication can’t talk about a tasty food for the food to turn out less tasty. And a communication can’t talk about a fast service for it to turn out slow.