A challenge for PR agencies
The term “strategic communication” has been doing the rounds in the discussion forums of PR professionals for quite some time; precisely at a time when PR is increasingly being used for product promotion, i.e. non-strategic communication. Investors relations, marketing, human resources, customer service and the classic press department engage in communication on a multitude of channels where different languages are spoken, different interests are served, different goals are pursued, and different points of view are represented.
So, the communication chaos is already fully established. The more a company communicates, the less clear the picture that emerges. This is exactly where strategic communication comes in if it is understood correctly. Strategic thinking means including a multitude of variables in a plan and forming a structure from them that appears uniform to the outside world but is supported internally by many individual parts.
The definition and implementation of strategic communication can only be a task for the top management level, which may have dealt with corporate communication in the past, incorporating strategic thinking, but is too far removed from product communication, staff motivation or even regional markets.
A few companies have created a top management position for all corporate communication, but without integrating a separate staff department into the classic structure (sales, purchasing, controlling, finance, production). Strategic communication can only be practiced meaningfully if the structures are in place to do so, the training for staff positions and coordination posts is planned, and the entire company structure undergoes a solid adaptation to modern communication.
As a PR agency – or communications partner – we have the task ahead of us of convincing top management levels of the need to restructure their companies, even if we will sometimes get a bloody nose in the process. As outside consultants, it should be our duty to emphasize the strategic aspect of communication at all times and in all places.
As consultancies, we also must ensure that the time frame of strategic communication is broader than that of a product cycle, an annual result, or a career stage. As consultants, we should think a little further ahead than managers stressed out in day-to-day business.
Clear proposals for the necessary restructuring, elaborated programs for the implementation of strategic goals and solid help in the selection and training of the responsible persons are our areas of responsibility, for which we must first dress ourselves up and do our homework.
The rapid development of communication generated by the Internet should serve as a wave for us to ride and not become a tsunami for corporate communication and its consultants. Contrary to all the prophecies of doom, our industry is more fascinating than ever, with challenges that encompass all areas of client geography.
From our April 2005 Newsletter