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Moving from tactical to strategic communications

All too often communications teams are seen as service departments that only exist to execute requests and deliver collateral. However this overlooks the ability of internal communications to bring about real change within a business and play a key role in delivering company wide results. Moving from tactical to strategic communications is fundamental to facilitating a change in perception, but it can be tricky as it involves a shift in mindset and approach. Here are some key methods you can utilise to help make the transition:

Understand the Big Picture

Before you even start to draft out your communications plan it is important to take a step back and think about what the overall objectives are for your business. If you haven’t received an update on these for a while, it may be worth seeking out insight into the latest roadmap for the future. Only by gaining a deeper understanding of your organisation’s overall goals will you be able to align your communications efforts with the broader strategic vision.

Audience Analysis

The next step is to conduct thorough audience analysis to understand the needs, preferences, and behaviours of your target audience. Different individuals and departments may well have completely different needs, interests and issues which need taking into account. There are various ways you can do this ranging from simple online surveys to face to face meetings, either on a ‘one to one’ or group basis.

Message Development

Once you have your audience information it will allow you to tailor your messages to resonate with the specific concerns of the different stakeholder groups. It is important to develop key messages that are aligned with the organisation’s strategic objectives and also to ensure consistency in messaging across all communication channels.

Integrated Communication Planning

Armed with your key messages you can start to plan out your channels and campaigns. In order to be more strategic, it is important to move from individual, isolated campaigns to integrated communication plans. This will enable you to consider how different channels (e.g., social media, traditional media, internal communications) can work together to convey a cohesive message.

Metrics and Measurement

It may well be worth reviewing your department’s goals and key performance indicators so that they align with the organisation’s strategic objectives. When reporting on the success of campaigns it is beneficial to shift focus from tactical metrics (e.g. likes, shares) to strategic metrics (e.g. impact on key performance indicators, ROI). This will enable you to demonstrate how you are impacting the business in a meaningful way.

Stakeholder Engagement

Identify key stakeholders around your business and build relationships with them on an ongoing basis. This will enable you to consider the perspectives of various stakeholders when developing and implementing communication strategies. It will also mean you have a sounding board to test messages and ideas on before releasing them to the wider team.

Risk Management

When writing your internal communications plan it is a good idea to anticipate potential communication challenges and barriers that might get in the way. This will enable you to develop strategies to address them and ensure you are then well-prepared to adapt your communication approach in response to changing circumstances. 

Continuous Learning

Another key step is to build in a method of evaluating and refining your communication strategies based on feedback and results. This will enable you to continuously improve upon performance and ensure your communications continually align with business needs. It can also be worth requesting ongoing training for yourself and your team to build strategic communication skills and foster a culture of learning and development.

Look to the Future

Communicating with a strategic mindset entails thinking beyond immediate concerns to the long-term impact of messages. Consider how your messaging relates to your organisation in the future and the specific behavioural change that the business needs to address. This in turn will enable you to contribute to the decision-making process by providing communication insights and perspectives.

By incorporating these key steps into your communication approach, you can gradually make the shift from tactical to strategic communications, enabling you to contribute more effectively to your organisation’s overall goals and success. Facilitating a shift in mindset is never easy but it is highly rewarding. If you would like some external support in making the transition, then get in touch with our specialist team.

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