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The Top 5 Smart Communications Practices Companies Need to Implement Right Now

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

This is the final chapter of the Steve Farnsworth created 4/4/4 blog series – today’s topic is The Top 5 Smart Communications Practices Companies Need to Implement Right Now.

Preparing to write this post, I gave lots of thought to the new and emerging communications practices that organizations could implement such as use of video, multimedia, SEO and social media etc., but at the end of the day I decided that the ‘must implement’ communications practices needs to include some of the basics that are too often over-looked.

5. Evaluate positioning and messaging. When companies look to hire a communications agency the process is kind of like dating and marriage. I love you just the way you are…now change. An agency and a perspective client meet (often a blind date) they talk, they swap photos (often in PowerPoint), say how much they like each other, make a commitment…and then the first thing the agency does is try to help the client change by ‘correcting’ its out of date messaging. Lots of companies find themselves with messaging and positioning that is out of date. It is not a sign that it’s a bad company, but it is often because reviewing messaging and positioning is rarely a priority. This exercise needs to be done on an ongoing basis and it should to be part of a communications program.

4. PR / Communications planning. The old joke is that communications departments and communications agencies are often poor at communicating the goals and promoting its achievements. This sounds like a no-brainer tip and something that every organization is probably already doing, but like the review of messaging and positioning, all too often this planning process isn’t a priority and therefore doesn’t always happen. Creating and refining of an organization’s communications plan is necessary to achieve buy-in from the C-level, set expectations, and is a good venue to discuss the use of and role of (changing and emerging)  tactics such as press releases, social media and SEO etc.

3. Blog. From a pure communications perspective, blogging is a tremendous opportunity for organizations to articulate its thoughts, vision, story etc. More than press releases, newsletters and whitepapers, a blog allow organizations to quickly articulate its view of breaking news, outline a long-term vision, create thought leaders etc. From a PR perspective, a company with a good blog provides a great flow of content for an agency looking to create proactive pitches. This isn’t listed as the number one communications practice that organizations need to implement, but this is the one that no one can convince me isn’t a must have.

2. Build team of bloggers. This could include recruiting a professional writer subject matter expert to be a dedicated corporate blogger. Why? See importance of blogging (#3). Unless blogging regularly is part of someone’s (ideally many someone’s) job description it is difficult to keep an active corporate blog. On the other hand, it isn’t hard to find a corporate blog with only half a dozen posts over the past 12 months. Make no mistake, a well managed corporate blog can easily pull together a company’s existing talents and voices, but don’t overlook the value of having a writer with content expertise. This isn’t just a shameless plug for my under-employed journalist friends, it is a wake-up call to my over-employed PR and communications professionals that the industry is changing and content creators are going to be of greater value than just pure story tellers. Career tip – help write the story, don’t just tell someone else’s story.

1. Stop ignoring social media. Note, that previous sentence doesn’t say, immediately start using social media and it doesn’t say organizations must invest in social media, hell it doesn’t even say that it is necessary to create a social media plan. It simply says that if you are ignoring social media…stop it. The point is that at a minimum every company should have some mechanism to measure or listen to what is being said about its company, the competitors and the industry via social media. If a company wants to tell me that they are not going to sell a $500K piece of equipment via Twitter I’m not going to argue with them. But, I will point out that someone looking for a half a million dollar piece of equipment may be talking about it on Twitter and shouldn’t you at least want to be available to listen?

Just a quick note to say, thanks to Steve, Lou Hoffman and Todd Defren for this experience. It has been interesting, challenging, educational and lots of fun. Also be sure to check out Don Jennings‘ take as well.

 

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