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What is strategic communication?

So, what exactly do we mean by strategic communications, and why is it so vital? This might seem a weird analogy, but imagine for a moment you are filling a cookie jar – the more effort you put into it, the more cookies you have in the jar.

However, these delicious cookies can quickly disappear when unexpected events occur – an issue or crisis arises that could impact your reputation, or cookie as we’ll explain (and believe us, every organisation will be subject to an issue or two).

In this article, we'll look at the concept of strategic communications, its importance, and how it mirrors the delicate art of managing a cookie jar filled with influence.

Defining Strategic Communications:

Strategic communication is the deliberate and consistent process of conveying messages to stakeholders [targeted audiences] with the goal of achieving specific objectives. It involves carefully crafting messages, choosing the right channels, and timing communications to create a desired impact. Just like filling a cookie jar, every action in strategic communications contributes to the overall outcome.

The Cookie Jar Analogy:

Imagine your strategic communications efforts as a metaphorical cookie jar. Each cookie represents a positive perception, trust, or influence over your audience. The more time and effort you invest in effective communication, the more cookies you can accumulate in the jar. These cookies symbolise the goodwill, reputation, and credibility you and your organisation have with your stakeholders.

Cookie Jar

However, just like in the real world, unexpected events and crises can occur that threaten to take cookies out of your jar. These events can range from anything like a product recall, a health & safety event, an employment issue, legal action, or even something as simple as a misinterpreted message. When these situations happen, cookies are taken out of the jar as stakeholder trust diminishes, and negative perceptions accumulate.

The Role of Strategic Communications:

Strategic communication is similar to maintaining a cookie jar of influence. Here's how:

  • Filling the Jar: Strategic communication professionals continuously work to fill the cookie jar by building and maintaining positive relationships with stakeholders. They craft messages that resonate with the target audience and create a positive image for their organization.

  • Monitoring and Maintenance: Just as you would keep an eye on your cookie jar to ensure it remains full, strategic communicators monitor stakeholder sentiment, media coverage, and social media discussions. This allows them to identify potential threats early and take corrective action.

  • Adaptation: In a dynamic world, you must adapt your communication strategies to changing circumstances. When a cookie is taken out of the jar due to something happening, implementing an effective response strategy is required to minimise the damage and rebuild trust.

  • Transparency: Building trust is like adding extra layers to your cookie jar. Transparency in communication helps ensure that stakeholders understand your organization's actions and decisions, contributing to the accumulation of more cookies.

You’d be surprised how many organisations haven’t worked at filling their cookie jar – taking for granted that “they’ll be OK when an issue hits”. Goodwill, reputation and credibility is not a right, it’s earned.

Strategic communication is the art of filling and preserving a cookie jar of influence. Just as diligent cookie management leads to a satisfying snack whenever you need it, strategic communicators work tirelessly to build and maintain a reserve of stakeholder trust and goodwill.

Remember, the more you invest in effective communication, the more cookies you have in your jar. But be prepared, because those cookies can quickly vanish when an issue hits. This means a well-crafted and adaptable strategic communications plan is essential to keep your jar full and your organisation's reputation intact.


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