Communication Strategy Framework And Why It Matters In Business

A communication strategy framework clarifies how businesses should communicate with their employees, investors, customers, and suppliers. Some of the key elements of an effective communication strategy move around purpose, background, objectives, target audience, messaging, and approach.

Understanding a communication strategy framework

Fundamentally, an investment in a communication strategy framework (CSF) is an investment in success. This is because success is dependent upon the individuals within a business and how well they communicate with internal and external stakeholders.

To encourage communication conducive to success, strategies formulated for a CSF must facilitate behavioral change. For example, a business must communicate to its customers that it understands (and can subsequently meet) their needs. Suppliers want a business arrangement that is mutually beneficial. A business must also satisfy investors with confident communication regarding future profitability.

Importantly, the CSF is a written plan in the form of a company vision. It clarifies what successful communication looks like and inspires stakeholders to work toward ambitious goals and objectives.

Key components of a communication strategy framework

While developing a CSF is more of an art than a science, there are several key components which should not be overlooked:

  1. Purpose – a brief statement regarding the communication strategy and how it will be implemented.
  2. Background – or a description of the initiative and the ideal outcome to be achieved.
  3. Objective(s) – all company communications should be in alignment with company objectives. Note that communication is not an end in itself – it should always guide broader objectives that reinforce a core vision or goals.
  4. Target audience – who is the strategy created for? Remember to create a strategy for each target audience.
  5. Messaging – to create a robust communication strategy, it’s crucial to understand what the target audience wants to hear and how they want to hear it. Communication should rely on storytelling that incorporates an interesting narrative, compelling imagery, or human interest. Research is crucial in understanding each audience and then crafting a story that is concise and relatable.
  6. Approach – how will the strategy be implemented? A business communicating a product recall may place television and newspaper advertisements. A business looking to increase investor confidence and transparency may conduct an external audit of internal operations.

Benefits of developing a communication strategy framework

For businesses undecided about developing a CSF, they should know that there are numerous benefits to doing so:

  • Stronger relationships – customers who enjoy a strong relationship with a business tend to become loyal, repeat buyers. A stronger relationship with suppliers means they are more likely to accommodate a specific business’s needs. Businesses who invest in shareholder relationships get easier and continued access to investment capital.
  • The ability to overcome obstacles – successful communication strategies have the potential to overcome obstacles that hinder growth. For example, a business that communicates well with governmental agencies may no longer be subject to red tape or excessive industry regulation.
  • Increased awareness – businesses that take the time to engage in constructive communication with stakeholders naturally learn more about their specific needs, attitudes, and interests. With this newfound information, they can fine-tune their strategies to maximize effectiveness.

Key takeaways

  • A communication strategy framework is a foundation for all internal and external messaging throughout a business.
  • A communication strategy framework seeks to align company values, goals, and objectives with behaviors that contribute to long term success.
  • Businesses that create communication strategy frameworks enjoy stronger, deeper, and longer-lasting stakeholder relationships. Some can also overcome traditional obstacles to growth such as government or industry regulation.

Connected Communication Frameworks

First-principles thinking – sometimes called reasoning from first principles – is used to reverse-engineer complex problems and encourage creativity. It involves breaking down problems into basic elements and reassembling them from the ground up. Elon Musk is among the strongest proponents of this way of thinking.
The ladder of inference is a conscious or subconscious thinking process where an individual moves from a fact to a decision or action. The ladder of inference was created by academic Chris Argyris to illustrate how people form and then use mental models to make decisions.
The Six Thinking Hats model was created by psychologist Edward de Bono in 1986, who noted that personality type was a key driver of how people approached problem-solving. For example, optimists view situations differently from pessimists. Analytical individuals may generate ideas that a more emotional person would not, and vice versa.
Second-order thinking is a means of assessing the implications of our decisions by considering future consequences. Second-order thinking is a mental model that considers all future possibilities. It encourages individuals to think outside of the box so that they can prepare for every and eventuality. It also discourages the tendency for individuals to default to the most obvious choice.
Lateral thinking is a business strategy that involves approaching a problem from a different direction. The strategy attempts to remove traditionally formulaic and routine approaches to problem-solving by advocating creative thinking, therefore finding unconventional ways to solve a known problem. This sort of non-linear approach to problem-solving, can at times, create a big impact.
Moonshot thinking is an approach to innovation, and it can be applied to business or any other discipline where you target at least 10X goals. That shifts the mindset, and it empowers a team of people to look for unconventional solutions, thus starting from first principles, by leveraging on fast-paced experimentation.
Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO, defined design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” Therefore, desirability, feasibility, and viability are balanced to solve critical problems.
The CATWOE analysis is a problem-solving strategy that asks businesses to look at an issue from six different perspectives. The CATWOE analysis is an in-depth and holistic approach to problem-solving because it enables businesses to consider all perspectives. This often forces management out of habitual ways of thinking that would otherwise hinder growth and profitability. Most importantly, the CATWOE analysis allows businesses to combine multiple perspectives into a single, unifying solution.

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