In today’s digital world of ‘always on’, successful public relations campaigns are realised through transparency and clarity of message. However, in order to arrive at this point of external effectiveness, a strong internal plan must first be put in place. Here, we look at how you can build a successful communications strategy from the inside out, making sure key stakeholders are on-board before your messaging hits the public domain.
The Atlantean approach
One way to conceptualise an outward looking communications plan is through the city of Atlantis. The mythical island was first referenced by Plato in 360BC, and while we can’t necessarily guarantee a route to utopian bliss through joined-up communications planning, this layered representation of town planning does offer a useful visual.
Study almost any artist’s interpretation of Atlantis and you will find a circular plan that builds from the inside out. The temples and government buildings reside in the middle, followed by the central business district, then shared community spaces such as gymnasiums and horse racing tracks, before finally sprawling out into the wider city.
Consistency of messaging
This is an important visualisation because it represents the key stages of successful communications planning. Messaging begins in the centre of the picture, created and agreed upon by senior stakeholders including the CEO, CFO, COO, and other C-Suite Executives, as well the board. It then moves out into the wider workplace, bringing all staff onto the same page and incorporating feedback from each individual department. From there, you can begin to put in place a wider media strategy through which to create your company narrative and brief journalists, before your messaging reaches out into the wider world – and it’s obviously this area in which existing and potential clients reside.
Taking this approach can help you to put in place a very clear and regimented corporate communications process that moves through: stakeholder communications, internal communications, public relations, and finally sales and marketing messaging. It is specifically designed to create consistency of voice by achieving consensus and buy-in from senior stakeholders at the front end, before ‘marketing’ this vision to the wider staff roster and consequently moving forward into the public domain as a unified company with a single voice.
It’s a model which, staying within the realms of mythological narrative momentarily, is perfectly summarised by Robert Baratheon’s testimony in this clip from season one of Game of Thrones: “Which is the bigger number: Five, or one? One. One army, a real army, united behind one leader with one purpose.”
As the message moves through all stages, transparency is key. While it’s not always possible (or helpful) to communicate every single detail of a company’s inner-workings to staff or indeed to press, working within the structure of an earnest and uncompromised message can be tremendously useful. A board presentation deck may be stripped of sensitive budgetary information, before it gets converted into a company-wide email and circulated to staff. A technical document that already sits in the public domain will likely be edited down and simplified, before it is sent to journalists in the form of a press release.
At every step of the way, conscientious transparency can ensure that your messaging remains consistent to all stakeholder groups, while ultimately doing the strongest possible job it can for you across each area.