Strategic communications, in its simplest form, is all about crafting and sharing your story. Content creation and distribution. However, to communicate effectively (get people to think what you want them to think, and do what you want them to do) requires a thoughtful, integrated approach.
As we look at the evolution of strategic communications, one thing will never change – organizations will always have stories to tell and people who need to hear them. What has changed is HOW we develop and disseminate each story.
We are living in a communications renaissance. People have never had more ways to communicate. With the many communication tools at our disposal, it is even more imperative that each message is extremely well developed…with the recipient forefront in your mind. It’s not what “you" want to say, it’s what “they” need to hear.
There are so many trends and fads in the communications industry. Remember Myspace? Blackberries? QR Codes?
I’m often asked, “Should we send an email or direct mail piece, post on our website or push via social channels. What about creating signage or PDFs, etc…” And almost always, in today’s world, the best answer is: “E, all of the above.”
People receive information through so many different channels. If your goal is to reach as many of your key targets as possible, you must meet them on their turf and activate all the appropriate communication channels to engage with them.
A very brief history of communication channels
In the olden days, back to the town criers of medieval Europe, people shared stories using verbal communications. As the designee of the monarch, the crier spewed the king’s news, while standing on steps in the middle of the town square. That aural system worked for several thousand years.
And then Gutenberg invented the printing press. People could read! Words on a page became the high-tech communications tool of the day. That lasted for centuries.
Until Marconi and Tesla invented the radio in the 1900s. This was the first time we could hear a person in real time all over the world. It revolutionized everything, from politics to sports to marketing.
Along comes television in the late 1920s. For the first time, we could hear AND see a person in real time all over the world. Television revolutionized everything once again.
And then came the tsunami of communications channels: cable TV, trade magazines and trade shows, special interest magazines, etc. Finally, the internet was unleashed from scientists to the general public in the early 1990s.
The construct of integrated communications was born. So was the four-channel / omni-channel approach. Today, we have location-based texting, YouTube, Twitter, real-time engagement, self-publishing (on social media or via websites) - and much more.
With so many communication vehicles and channels, how does today’s savvy marketer develop and disseminate messaging that will clarify your story, connect with the people who matter most, and change attitudes and behaviors?
Moving forward with strategic communications
The key is crafting effective, engaging content. The essential importance of content will never change. Read our “Pathway to Great Messaging” to understand the six key components of an effective message. As you craft your content, remember, information today must remain under the umbrella of "buyer beware" due to the incredible proliferation of fake news, illegitimate sources, bogus and false "facts," and a general mistrust of traditional sources (established media, elected officials, business leaders). Because effective strategic communications are particularly challenging now, we must focus concurrently on crafting powerful messages and then sharing them effectively.
Keep experimenting with new tools and speaking to your audiences on the platforms, channels and in the ways they desire.
So, remember, how we disseminate stories will continue to evolve to reflect current society and technology trends. But what will never change is the importance of clear, concise communications that drive an attitude or behavioral change.