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.

Key Highlights

  • Introduction to a Communication Strategy Framework:
    • A communication strategy framework (CSF) outlines how businesses should communicate with various stakeholders.
    • Success in business relies on effective communication with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Importance of CSF:
    • Investing in a CSF is an investment in success, as it facilitates effective communication that drives behavioral change.
    • CSF guides stakeholders towards ambitious goals and objectives through a written plan resembling a company vision.
  • Key Components of a CSF:
    • Purpose: A concise statement on the communication strategy’s implementation.
    • Background: Describes the initiative and the desired outcome.
    • Objective(s): Aligns all communication with company objectives, reinforcing the core vision or goals.
    • Target Audience: Identifies who the strategy is for and may involve separate strategies for different audiences.
    • Messaging: Focuses on understanding the audience’s preferences and crafting concise, relatable storytelling.
    • Approach: Describes the implementation methods, such as advertising or audits.
  • Benefits of Developing a CSF:
    • Stronger Relationships: Improved relationships with customers, suppliers, and shareholders lead to loyalty and better access to capital.
    • Overcoming Obstacles: Effective communication can help overcome growth-hindering obstacles like government regulations.
    • Increased Awareness: Constructive communication helps businesses learn more about stakeholders’ needs, enhancing strategy effectiveness.
  • Key Takeaways:
    • A communication strategy framework guides all internal and external messaging in a business.
    • It aligns values, goals, and objectives with behaviors that contribute to long-term success.
    • Businesses benefit from stronger relationships, overcoming obstacles, and increased awareness when they create communication strategy frameworks.

Applied Communication Strategies

Scenario StrategyApplicationImplicationOutcome
Product LaunchProduct Launch Communication Strategy:A company plans a product launch communication strategy that includes teaser campaigns, press releases, social media buzz, and live events to create anticipation and generate interest among target audiences.Increased product visibility and excitement.Successful product launch and potential sales boost.
Crisis ManagementCrisis Communication Strategy:In the face of a crisis, an organization implements a crisis communication strategy to promptly address the issue, provide transparent updates, and manage public perception, thereby minimizing reputational damage.Reputational damage control and trust restoration.Mitigated crisis impact and stakeholder confidence.
Employee EngagementEmployee Engagement Communication Strategy:A company develops an employee engagement communication strategy that includes regular internal newsletters, town hall meetings, and recognition programs to foster employee morale, retention, and productivity.Improved employee satisfaction and retention.Enhanced workplace culture and productivity levels.
Brand BuildingBrand Building Communication Strategy:To strengthen its brand, a company employs a brand building communication strategy that focuses on consistent messaging, storytelling, and engaging content across various channels to establish brand identity and loyalty.Stronger brand recognition and customer loyalty.Increased market share and competitive advantage.
Market ExpansionMarket Expansion Communication Strategy:When entering new markets, a business develops a market expansion communication strategy that includes market research, localization of marketing materials, and targeted messaging to appeal to local audiences and adapt to cultural nuances.Market entry success and local customer engagement.Sustained growth and market presence in new regions.
Investor RelationsInvestor Relations Communication Strategy:A public company employs an investor relations communication strategy that involves regular financial reporting, earnings calls, and investor meetings to keep shareholders informed and maintain investor confidence.Transparent financial reporting and investor trust.Attracting new investors and share price stability.
Product RecallProduct Recall Communication Strategy:In case of a product recall, an organization implements a product recall communication strategy that swiftly notifies affected customers, provides safety information, and offers remedies to mitigate harm and protect the brand’s reputation.Customer safety and brand damage control.Minimized product recall impact and brand recovery.
Social Responsibility InitiativesCSR Communication Strategy:A company engages in social responsibility initiatives and develops a CSR communication strategy to effectively communicate its sustainable practices, philanthropic efforts, and community involvement, building a positive brand image.Positive public perception and corporate responsibility.Enhanced reputation and stakeholder goodwill.
Mergers and AcquisitionsM&A Communication Strategy:In the event of mergers or acquisitions, organizations implement an M&A communication strategy that involves clear messaging to employees, customers, and stakeholders about the changes, benefits, and future plans.Employee and stakeholder alignment and trust.Smooth transition and post-M&A integration success.
Customer RetentionCustomer Retention Communication Strategy:A business focuses on customer retention and loyalty by implementing a communication strategy that includes personalized email campaigns, loyalty programs, and feedback collection to maintain customer satisfaction and engagement.Customer loyalty and repeat business.Increased customer lifetime value and profitability.
Thought LeadershipThought Leadership Communication Strategy:To establish industry authority, a company develops a thought leadership communication strategy that involves creating and sharing valuable content, participating in industry events, and engaging with industry influencers to position itself as a thought leader.Industry recognition and credibility.Enhanced market positioning and business opportunities.
International ExpansionInternational Expansion Communication Strategy:When expanding internationally, a company formulates an international expansion communication strategy that addresses language barriers, cultural sensitivity, and market entry challenges to effectively communicate its value proposition to global audiences.Cross-cultural understanding and market penetration.Successful international expansion and global growth.
Product DifferentiationProduct Differentiation Communication Strategy:A business seeks to differentiate its products through a communication strategy that emphasizes unique features, benefits, and customer testimonials, effectively conveying its competitive advantage to target audiences.Market differentiation and brand distinctiveness.Increased market share and customer preference.
Talent AcquisitionTalent Acquisition Communication Strategy:In talent acquisition efforts, an organization develops a communication strategy that includes employer branding, recruitment marketing, and engaging job postings to attract top talent, showcase company culture, and streamline the hiring process.Attracting qualified candidates and top talent.Efficient recruitment processes and workforce quality.
E-commerce ExpansionE-commerce Expansion Communication Strategy:When expanding into e-commerce, a company crafts an e-commerce expansion communication strategy that focuses on building a user-friendly online platform, digital marketing, and customer support to enhance the online shopping experience and attract online customers.Online market presence and customer satisfaction.Increased online sales and revenue growth.
Regulatory ComplianceRegulatory Compliance Communication Strategy:To ensure regulatory compliance, a business develops a communication strategy that includes internal compliance training, external reporting, and transparent communication with regulatory bodies, demonstrating its commitment to adhering to industry regulations.Regulatory adherence and legal risk mitigation.Enhanced reputation and reduced compliance-related issues.

Read Next: Lasswell Communication Model, Linear Model Of Communication.

Connected Communication Models

Aristotle’s Model of Communication

The Aristotle model of communication is a linear model with a focus on public speaking. The Aristotle model of communication was developed by Greek philosopher and orator Aristotle, who proposed the linear model to demonstrate the importance of the speaker and their audience during communication. 

Communication Cycle

The linear model of communication is a relatively simplistic model envisaging a process in which a sender encodes and transmits a message that is received and decoded by a recipient. The linear model of communication suggests communication moves in one direction only. The sender transmits a message to the receiver, but the receiver does not transmit a response or provide feedback to the sender.

Berlo’s SMCR Model

Berlo’s SMCR model was created by American communication theorist David Berlo in 1960, who expanded the Shannon-Weaver model of communication into clear and distinct parts. Berlo’s SMCR model is a one-way or linear communication framework based on the Shannon-Weaver communication model.

Helical Model of Communication

The helical model of communication is a framework inspired by the three-dimensional spring-like curve of a helix. It argues communication is cyclical, continuous, non-repetitive, accumulative, and influenced by time and experience.

Lasswell Communication Model

The Lasswell communication model is a linear framework for explaining the communication process through segmentation. Lasswell proposed media propaganda performs three social functions: surveillance, correlation, and transmission. Lasswell believed the media could impact what viewers believed about the information presented.

Modus Tollens

Modus tollens is a deductive argument form and a rule of inference used to make conclusions of arguments and sets of arguments.  Modus tollens argues that if P is true then Q is also true. However, P is false. Therefore Q is also false. Modus tollens as an inference rule dates back to late antiquity where it was taught as part of Aristotelian logic. The first person to describe the rule in detail was Theophrastus, successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school.

Five Cannons of Rhetoric

The five canons of rhetoric were first organized by Roman philosopher Cicero in his treatise De Inventione in around 84 BC. Some 150 years later, Roman rhetorician Quintilian explored each of the five canons in more depth as part of his 12-volume textbook entitled Institutio Oratoria. The work helped the five canons become a major component of rhetorical education well into the medieval period. The five canons of rhetoric comprise a system for understanding powerful and effective communication.

Communication Strategy

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.

Noise if Communication

Noise is any factor that interferes with or impedes effective communication between a sender and receiver. When noise disrupts the communication process or prevents the transmission of information, it is said to be communication noise.

7 Cs of Communication

The 7Cs of communication is a set of guiding principles on effective communication skills in business, moving around seven principles for effective business communication: clear, concise, concrete, correct, complete, coherent, and courteous.

Transactional Model of Communication

The transactional model of communication describes communication as a two-way, interactive process within social, relational, and cultural contexts. The transactional model of communication is best exemplified by two models. Barnlund’s model describes communication as a complex, multi-layered process where the feedback from the sender becomes the message for the receiver. Dance’s helical model is another example, which suggests communication is continuous, dynamic, evolutionary, and non-linear.

Horizontal Communication

Horizontal communication, often referred to as lateral communication, is communication that occurs between people at the same organizational level. In this context, communication describes any information that is transmitted between individuals, teams, departments, divisions, or units.

Communication Apprehension

Communication apprehension is a measure of the degree of anxiety someone feels in response to real (or anticipated) communication with another person or people.

Closed-Loop Communication

Closed-loop communication is a simple but effective technique used to avoid misunderstandings during the communication process. Here, the person receiving information repeats it back to the sender to ensure they have understood the message correctly. 

Grapevine In Communication

Grapevine communication describes informal, unstructured, workplace dialogue between employees and superiors. It was first described in the early 1800s after someone observed that the appearance of telegraph wires strung between transmission poles resembled a grapevine.

ASE Model

The ASE model posits that human behavior can be predicted if one studies the intention behind the behavior. It was created by health communication expert Hein de Vries in 1988. The ASE model believes intention and behavior are determined by cognitive variables such as attitude, social influence, and self-efficacy. The model also believes that intention predicts behavior such that one’s attitude toward a behavior is influenced by the consequences of that behavior. Three cognitive variables are the primary determinants of whether the intention to perform a new behavior was sustained: attitude, social influence, and self-efficacy. Various external variables also influence these factors.

Integrated Marketing Communication

Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is an approach used by businesses to coordinate and brand their communication strategies. Integrated marketing communication takes separate marketing functions and combines them into one, interconnected approach with a core brand message that is consistent across various channels. These encompass owned, earned, and paid media. Integrated marketing communication has been used to great effect by companies such as Snapchat, Snickers, and Domino’s.

Social Penetration Theory

Social penetration theory was developed by fellow psychologists Dalmas Taylor and Irwin Altman in their 1973 article Social Penetration: The Development of Interpersonal Relationships. Social penetration theory (SPT) posits that as a relationship develops, shallow and non-intimate communication evolves and becomes deeper and more intimate.

Hypodermic Needle

The hypodermic needle theory was first proposed by communication theorist Harold Lasswell in his 1927 book Propaganda Technique in the World War. The hypodermic needle theory is a communication model suggesting media messages are inserted into the brains of passive audiences.

7-38-55 Rule

The 7-38-55 rule was created by University of California psychology professor Albert Mehrabian and mentioned in his book Silent Messages.  The 7-38-55 rule describes the multi-faceted way in which people communicate emotions, claiming that 7% of communication occurred via spoken word, 38% through tone of voice, and the remaining 55% through body language.

Active Listening

Active listening is the process of listening attentively while someone speaks and displaying understanding through verbal and non-verbal techniques. Active listening is a fundamental part of good communication, fostering a positive connection and building trust between individuals.

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