Strategic Communication Planning
Most businesses unwittingly use a “spray and pray” communication strategy: they spray employees with an array of information while “praying” for employee understanding and motivation.1 It’s no wonder that only 50% of organizational decisions ever get fully implemented2 and 26% of organizational leaders believe that their company’s business strategy is “well communicated and understood.”3
Metacomm ensures that the organization makes the right high-level decisions about messages sent, images chosen, channels used, and communicators employed for the target audiences. To paraphrase Mark Twain, “the difference between the almost correct strategy and the correct one is like the difference between a lightening bug and lightening.” Effective strategies involve aligning messages, images, key communicators, and timetables to achieve business goals.
A proper communication strategy should:
- Legitimize and de-legitimize certain issues. The role of leadership is to direct attention to issues that matter most to the organization’s success (controlling the conceptual space). An effective strategy focuses employee attention on the value-added issues.
- Shape employee memory of key events. Memories shape employee responses to future events; so, an effective strategy helps create memories that will further the organizational mission.
- Help employees make sense of the confusing and ambiguous. Employees are bombarded with a range of conflicting messages from co-workers, supervisors, and outside sources. An effective strategy helps employees resolve these contradictory views of critical issues.
- Bolster the credibility of the communication system. Employees who deem communication more credible are more likely to find the organizational communication persuasive.
- Evolve based on the changing needs of the organization and assessments. Strategies should shift when the focus of the business changes or when routine assessments suggest that communications are not effective.
1Clampitt, P. 2010. Communicating for Managerial Effectiveness 4th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
2 Nutt, P. 1999. Surprising but true: Half the decisions in organizations fail. Academy of Management Executive, 13(4), p. 75 – 90.
32003. How does IT funding affect alignment? CIO Insight. November 14: 26.