Giving the Corporate Communications folks a handy little guide for structure, Rajesh Joshi explains how to make PR message development a truly logical and cogent process. Ask the right questions!
Corporate messaging can be both deceptively simple and frustratingly complex. When finally ready, everyone wonders what the fuss was all about; but when the message preparation is in progress, few are those fabled bosses able to pin down the nub of their thoughts and articulate them well. Despite regular ‘newsy’ developments in every business, most business heads (and sometimes even CEOs) are unable to give a proper ‘talking points’ brief for stakeholder interactions to their communications team.
Years ago, Dr Philip Kotler’s Four Ps of Marketing — Products, Price, Place and Promotion — gave marketing professionals a structure and form on which to develop their programmes; while corporate communications continued to fly by the seat of their pants.
While working on messaging strategies across the organisations that I have served, I have learnt how to make Corporate Communications or PR message development a truly logical and cogent process. It’s up to us to ask the right questions to draw out the core messages.
The core messages can be found in the 6Ps and an R that together build that all-important R — Reputation.
- Talk about existing products and their features, USPs and differentiators
- Introduce new products or the ideas behind those on the anvil; explain their benefits to customers
- Highlight Financial performance
- Spotlight positive market response to offerings
- Present business achievements
- Showcase awards and accolades
- Demonstrate commitment to CSR as well as impact
- Emphasise superiority of processes, systems, operations
- Promote benefits to customers and company in terms of cost, efficiency, reduction in errors, etc.
- Talk about improved standards
- Offer insights into process standardisation and consistency
- Introduce the people running the businesses, key management and leadership talent
- Point out people talent, thought-leadership, global expertise and experience
- Identify good HR practices and highlight work-place culture
- Profile CSR volunteers and their efforts
- Play up the corporate network including number of offices/ locations, globally or in-country
- Publicise new offices being opened or relocations
- Use a pan-network strategy to talk about all products, performance, people, plans
- Share plans and priorities for the immediate future, as well as long-term commitment to the community, country and the market
- Customise messaging to local requirements and interests
- Leverage existing relationships with all internal and external stakeholders
- Forge new bonds with internal and external stakeholders
- Engage more actively with the good friends and supporters, and convert those who are not
It is important to bear in mind that all messages are not appropriate for all stakeholders. For instance, a ‘people’ related message from the CEO about increasing automation and reducing headcount will go down well with investors, but will play poorly with employees. Take the time to adjust the message to the medium and the audience.
Draw out the core messages and cherry-pick from among them to highlight the best of the company, provide clarity about its corporate activities, create a positive perception for it and build its reputation.
Used well, the 6Ps+R model can help communicators formulate strategy, create dashboards, craft messages, gauge impact and reach that holy grail, coverage.