PR and Comms orthodoxy is that everything a business says or does should always support strategic business goals. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Except, what if the strategy is off?
What if the business hasn’t properly understood its market and has made strategic choices based on that misunderstanding?
You start to see the problem, which is that bad business strategy equals bad PR and communications strategy. The resulting tactics and money spent on execution will be wasted. That’s why it’s important that consultants lift the lid on what we’re presented with as a ‘sacred cow’.
We need to peer inside and ask the probing questions, because if we don’t, we’re not doing our job effectively.
What are the signs of bad business strategy?
For starters, ask how the business strategy was created. How much is driven by internal assumptions and senior executive opinions, not external facts? Is it based on properly studying the market for the company’s products and services? How much is based on actual customer behaviour and needs?
In short, how market-oriented is this organisation?
Strategy, in simple terms, is about bringing clarity to what the organisation does, who it does it for, where and why. It’s also about considered sacrifice: what you do not do; what you choose to ignore; and where you choose not to play.
Because, unless you see this level of clarity in your organisation’s business strategy, then any efforts to design and run PR and communications plans to support it will, at best, be sub-optimal. Quite possibly, they’ll result in failure.
Strategy is all too often overly-complex. Communications and PR activity should always be driven by a clear, market-oriented and simply-expressed business strategy.
Consultants and advisors – whether they’re in-house or external – need to have the confidence to challenge and kick back when they see otherwise. This may mean you have to massage some fragile egos and handle a few relationship conflicts.
But always remember, our job is to be effective, not popular.