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Five ways to rediscover the essence of strategic communication

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    In a world inundated with ever-evolving communication technologies and platforms, it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of complexity.

    The allure of cutting-edge tools, data analytics, and digital strategies can sometimes distract us from the essence of effective communication. As communication professionals and business leaders, there’s incredible value in taking a step back and reminding ourselves of the foundational principles of strategic communication.

    The digital age dilemma

    Social media, instant messaging, email, and many other digital platforms have revolutionised the way we communicate. While these tools offer unparalleled opportunities for reaching audiences, they’ve also created a paradoxical challenge: the more communication channels we have, the harder it becomes to effectively communicate.

    In the midst of this digital chaos, it’s all too common for organisations to lose sight of the core principles of strategic communication. The result is often a scattered and ineffective approach that fails to engage and resonate with the intended audience.

    The essence of strategic communication

    At its core, strategic communication is about conveying a message with purpose. Whether it’s communicating the organisation’s vision, driving employee alignment, or fostering customer loyalty, the heart of strategic communication lies in intentionality. Going back to basics means rediscovering this fundamental principle – that every message, every interaction, should be guided by a clear purpose.

    Here are five ways to rediscover the essence of strategic communication.

    1. Embrace the art of clarity

    In our pursuit of innovation, we sometimes overlook the power of simplicity. The result? Messages that are convoluted and difficult to decipher. This is where the principle of simplicity comes to the fore. Revisiting the basics means embracing the art of clarity. Whether you’re crafting an internal memo or launching a multimillion-dollar campaign, your message should be simple, straightforward, and easy to understand. Think about some of the most iconic slogans and messages – “Just Do It,” “Think Different,” “Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat.” These messages are effective because they are clear, concise, and resonate with audiences on a personal level.

    1. Get to the heart of strategy

    Right now, we have access to an unprecedented amount of data about our audiences. However, amid the sea of analytics, it’s crucial not to lose sight of the human element. Revisiting the basics involves reconnecting with the principle of audience-centric communication. Who are your target audiences? What are their aspirations, fears, and pain points? Getting back to basics means engaging in meaningful conversations with your audience, both online and offline. It’s about empathising with their needs and desires and tailoring your messages to resonate with them authentically.

    1. Build a unified brand voice

    While the diversity of channels provides ample opportunities to reach audiences, it’s vital to maintain consistency in your messaging and brand voice. The basics of strategic communication emphasise a unified approach, where your core message remains intact across all platforms.

    Imagine encountering a brand that presents a playful and casual tone on social media but switches to a formal and corporate voice on its website. This inconsistency can create confusion and dilute the impact of your communication efforts. By returning to basics, you ensure that your audience experiences a cohesive brand identity regardless of the channel they engage with.

    1. Craft compelling stories

    In an era driven by data and analytics, the age-old art of storytelling is often overlooked. Yet, stories have an unparalleled ability to captivate, inspire, and connect with audiences on a profound level. Revisiting the basics involves recognising the power of narrative. Stories can humanise complex concepts, convey values, and evoke emotions in ways that data alone cannot. As communication professionals, we should never underestimate the impact of a compelling story. Whether you’re crafting a corporate presentation or a social media campaign, incorporating storytelling elements can create a compelling and memorable experience for your audience.

    1. Guide your audience forward

    Every piece of communication should have a call to action that guides your audience toward a specific outcome. This foundational principle is often overlooked in the pursuit of creativity and innovation. Returning to basics means reinstating the importance of the call to action. Whether you’re inviting your audience to subscribe to your newsletter, visit your website, or make a purchase, the call to action serves as a navigational beacon. It transforms communication from a one-way interaction into a dialogue, prompting your audience to take the desired step forward.

    In the midst of rapid technological advancements, the enduring principles of strategic communication remain as relevant as ever. Getting back to basics means embracing clarity, empathy, consistency, storytelling, and purpose-driven messaging. It isn’t a step backward; it’s a return to the essence of communication – connecting with audiences, fostering understanding, and achieving meaningful outcomes.

    As we navigate the dynamic communication landscape, we should pause and reflect on these timeless principles. By reinvigorating our strategies with the basics in mind, we can create communication experiences that resonate, engage, and leave a lasting impact. In a world of complexity, the power of simplicity and intentionality shines brighter than ever before.

    About The Author

    Sia Papageorgiou
    Sia Papageorgiou is managing partner at the Centre for Strategic Communication Excellence and co-founder of The Alignment People and Gifted Professionals & Communicators Community. She’s a multi-award-winning communication leader on a mission to elevate the value and visibility of communication professionals and help them become trusted, strategic, and in-demand advisors. Sia is opinionated about what our profession can achieve and believes communication professionals have the best job in the world. She’s a certified strategic communication management professional, a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, and past president of the Victorian chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). She’s also a past board director at IABC Asia-Pacific and is immediate past chair of the Global Communication Certification Council. In 2021, IABC Asia-Pacific named Sia Communicator of the Year and in 2022 she was awarded the prestigious IABC Rae Hamlin Award in recognition of her exemplary service in advocating the Global Standard of the Communication Profession and evangelising the power and possibility of communication.
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