In this information age, corporate communication is all about image-building, raising public awareness and perception about a company’s products and principles it stands for and how it can be achieved in the best way.
Well, the most honest way to do it is by not demolishing your opponents’ image.
Some would say that in the murkyworld of competition, industrial espionage, backstabbing and treachery rule the roost. Well, that is not quite true. There is room for honest dealings, and if one is sincere, there does exist a clear path towards success.
To project a decent image of a company, if not an excellent one - an almost impossible task - there are several components and several players within the company who have to cometogether to play a part.
Every company today must have a comprehensive ‘Communications Strategy’ or a ‘Communications Plan’ that should run for a year or more to sustain an image with the public, the government, customers, vendors, shareholders, creditors, bankers, FIs, the stock exchange and the media.
The communications department of the company, at the beginning of the year, should drawup the Communications Plan and allocate a budget for every component. Ad hoc plans will not pay. Though they may suit the management to cut costs initially, the ultimate costs are likely to be enormous if you proceed without a goal as you are likely to be coughing up for corrections down the line.
Before I come to the components of such a plan, I should talk about assembling the team forachieving this task. The communications department should be directly under the control of the CEO as he is the captain of the flagship and knows the direction in which the company should move. Vice-presidents can only assist in throwing up new ideas, concepts and help in implementation - they do not and cannot define goals.
You will find that wherever the CEO is in charge, and steers the PR for thecompany with his skills of articulate speech, both written and spoken, the company projects a healthy image for itself. It would not be proper for me to mention companies where the CEOs have achieved this. But I feel that of GE’s Jack Welsh has to be mentioned here as someone who has done the trick. Articulate CEOs win the day, as their communication is quick and crisp and leaves no ambiguitiesfor people to take advantage of.
The CEO’s office and the communications department have to work in tandem as they form the fulcrum of the company. Other important players in this strategy are the CFO, the company secretary, the marketing head, investor-relations head, business development head, projects coordinator, government liaison manager and institutional relations manager.
Too manycooks spoil the broth, you might say. Not exactly. All these people are not involved on a daily basis. The communications department is the hub, which coordinates with these players, collecting vital information about the company, which should be used judiciously and in the best interests of the company.
As in all conglomerates, where there are too many divisions or too many group companies with noholding company to coordinate, top-level executives will constantly be jockeying for positions and may sometimes mislead the communications department. Here, the latter must rely heavily on the CEO, who is the leader and who is accountable to the board and steer clear of the boardroom politics in the company.
What are the components of the communications plan?
As the celebrated bard WilliamWordsworth once said: “One does not sit under a tree or near a brook to say I am now going to write poetry.” The communications person needs ask himself:
• Is there a real need to communicate?
• Why should I communicate?
• What do I communicate?
• Where do I communicate?
• How do I communicate?
• What tools should I use to communicate?
Once you have...