As we turn the calendar to another year, new goals and resolutions come to mind. Although 2021 brought change and uncertainty, it was also characterized by progress, moments of joy and hope. Social distancing highlighted the importance of communicating well with one another, good habits to continue to develop in the new year.
Many of the tenets we hold true in public relations can help lead us into 2022, with better days ahead.
Six best practices for better communication
Lead with what’s important: Defining what is important and prioritizing goals should happen from the top down in every organization. We often highlight it at the forefront of public messaging, in headlines and opening paragraphs. Taking the same approach with other aspects of our lives, including at home and at work, can yield positive results that underscore what we value. Define what matters to you and set aside time for it. Serve as an example of those priorities day in and day out. Listen and learn: Outlining talking points, honing a message and telling the story are daily tasks in our craft. Listening intentionally is the less visible but more important first step. Consider other perspectives and then apply what you’ve learned to your internal and external communications. You’ll be surprised at how much stronger your message will be once it’s built on a more inclusive base. Verify with the target audience your messaging accurately reflects their concerns and meets the needs expressed.
Develop your core message: Establish your identity as a brand and structure communications with purpose. Distill your company’s values into a core message, which should be the single most important takeaway when employees and the public think of your company. What do you want people to know about you? Say it again. Your core message should reflect the relationship you have with your audience and the role your brand plays in their lives.
Be honest with customers and clientele: When in doubt, start with the facts. Truth should be at the center of all corporate communications. Your credibility depends on honesty, integrity and the ways you communicate both. What are the positive things that are always true of your brand? The most powerful messaging reflects a truth that your audience already believes. Lean into that.
Have a clear communications strategy: Outline what you want to communicate and use consistent, straightforward language throughout your organization. Deliver key corporate messages personally and make sure managers reinforce those messages. Check in with your employees. Encourage feedback, point them to additional resources and let them know what to expect. Employees cannot progress in their careers unless they know where they stand and how they fit into broader corporate plans. Clear language should also carry over into public messaging.
Know how to reach your audience: Where does your audience interact with you? Use metrics to know where to concentrate your efforts. Your website may not receive as much attention as your social media platforms. Other audiences may need more personalized outreach like a direct mail campaign or face-to-face interaction. Be open to communicating with your audience in more than one way. A handwritten card can be the perfect way to reach out in an impactful way.
No matter what else you achieve this year, the process of taking stock to thoughtfully define goals is itself an accomplishment worth celebrating. May your 2022 be productive, prosperous and reflect your brand’s purpose.
Charlie Price is a founding partner in Price Lang Public Relations, pricelang.com.