At the risk of stating the obvious, communications strategies don’t start with tactics. And yet, that’s exactly where we see many companies spending a lot of their energy. They launch one tactic after another – like toy sailboats on a duck pond – and are frustrated when none of them seem to reach the other side.
“We need to promote our new location,” someone says, “let’s draft a news release.”
“Our main competitor has 10,000 followers on Facebook! Shouldn’t we be running a contest?”
“Our employees don’t seem to understand what we’re trying to achieve. Let’s do some lunch ‘n’ learn sessions with the executive team.”
I get it. Tactics are fun. We want to try out new things to see if they’ll work. But, if you’re talking tactics before strategy, then red flags should go up. Let’s just hold on a minute and make sure we completely understand what we’re trying to accomplish and how this tactic can fit in. That usually means we need to understand what the executive team is thinking.
There are a hundred questions that need to be answered including the big one: what is the company’s reason for being? What are we trying to achieve? What’s our brand promise? What is our growth strategy? Who are we trying to reach? What do they think of us? What do they need? Who is on our team (staff, suppliers, partners) and what are we telling them? Etc. etc.
Fortunately, most successful companies will have the answers to those at hand or without a lot of searching and we can get to work with their leaders crafting a communications strategy that fits them like a tailored suit. Even if the answers are a little hard to find, asking the questions helps the management team crystallize their thinking.
Once we agree to the strategy, then we can start playing with tactics.