Have something to say
At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, no one is going to pay you any attention if you don’t have something engaging to say. In an age of social media where twitter accounts allow people to opine about everything from the US Presidential election to Celebrity Big Brother, businesses need to have a decent, credible story – and crucially one which only they can tell – if they are to be heard above the cacophony of competing voices.
Avoid the BS
We’ve all heard those interviews on the radio in the morning where people founder, seeking refuge in hyperbole and jargon for want of a straight answer. Don’t do it. It convinces no one and rarely ends well. If you are to be credible you must avoid the temptation to oversell your story or express it in impenetrable terms which will alienate all but your most ardent admirers. Above all, be honest – if something has gone wrong, admit it, show how you are fixing it and why it won’t happen again.
Play the long game
It’s called strategic comms for a reason. All too often companies become fixated on the immediate news cycles and abandon their beautifully crafted comms plans in favour of tactics which they hope will deliver headlines in the short term. Stay focussed on your goal.
It’s not all about the CEO
As a cursory glance at any paper, business programme or website will tell you, journalists like to talk to CEOs. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that people will believe what they hear from them. In fact, the Edelman Trust survey tells us that CEO credibility is declining – falling by 12 points last year. In contrast ‘a person like me’ is rising in people’s estimation and now trails only academics and technical experts in credibility. So, consider putting forward a regular employee sometimes instead of heading straight to the top for your spokesperson.
It’s not all one-way
Long gone are the days when businesses could deliver its messages to its audience and retreat to relative safety until its next pronouncement. Any business which wants raise its profile today needs to be prepared to engage in a genuine conversation customers, critics and journalists alike.
Alex Bigg is MD Corporate and Financial, Edelman UK