What does the term 'communications' mean in a business context? Often it relates to sales and marketing activities. Sometimes it refers to customer service. Elsewhere it covers engaging with staff or suppliers.
The simple truth is that communication is like the oil inside a modern business machine, providing vital information, insight and feedback. As we can see from the diagram above, business communications impacts on so many areas of organisations.
This creates a potential headache for companies as they (1) have a wide array of stakeholders to engage with (2) as a result they may need to use a variety of different communications channels and (3) the content they use will have to reflect these audiences.
Let's turn first to the stakeholder audiences. These are all the people and companies who interface with your organisation - both outside and inside. They include your customers, clients, suppliers, staff, prospective staff, investors, shareholders, volunteers and influencers.
This is quite a list and to complicate matters further, they will all communicate in different ways depending on their age, background and access to technology. Older stakeholders may want face-to-face or telephone-based engagement whilst younger ones will prefer digital or video-based conversations.
Finally, the content you use needs to work for these audiences. From long-form written content through to images and infographics, right through to augmented pictures and gamification.
The key is to have an 'inclusive' communications plan - one which works for all your stakeholders. Here are three tips on how to achieve this:
- Draw up a list of all your stakeholder audiences
- Create a grid showing the communications channels you may need to engage with them
- Build a library of content which works for these audiences
Of course, it is vital that this is done as part of an overall communications strategy built entirely around your short, medium and long term business objectives.