The ledger of examples of poor corporate and government communication seems to grow much faster than that of examples of good communication.
At the heart of each ledger is the degree to which the communication is strategic (or not).
Strategy is long-term planning and policy development. Communications best serves an organization when hooked into such a strategy.
Any strategy needs its own explicit and well-documented communications component, one that addresses positioning and messages, but also resources and budget, and the objectives for communications as they relate to those larger organizational strategic objectives.
Within that communications strategy should sit the various elements that combine to deliver a viable communications programme: social media and mainstream media, direct-to-community, employees and shareholders, the wider public, government, and the ‘tribes’ of advocates that coalesce to support an organization.
By operating at this strategic level, policies, protocols and the high-level objectives can be debated, created, refined and adopted – long before the projects and tasks are sorted out.
And they need to be, because all of these, and the interplays they have with audiences and the public at large, will be buffeted by changes in markets, organizational structures, budgets, competition, and unforeseen challenges (and opportunities).
The communications strategy has to exist to provide the resilience needed to withstand all of these.
The alternative is a loose set of tactics and projects that deliver results but fail to meet objectives.
That are blown off course.
That result in cancelled projects. Culled budgets. Redundant professionals.
Make no mistake: a lack of a communications strategy in any organization will result in mishaps, poorly understood motives, confusion and mistrust.
The desire and ability for any given group or audience to want to follow an organization (and buy its products, or vote for it, or donate to its cause) comes from communications plans and programmes with the long-term objective firmly in play.
And this comes only from strategic communications.