I’m a firm believer that great organizations rely on great leadership. And great leaders rely on great communications skills. That belief is essentially what prompted me to start Dooley Communications – to help the leaders of organizations create, hone and execute communications strategies.
When Winston Churchill inspired Great Britain to overcome the most horrific odds to defeat the Nazis, he did so with words.
“We shall not fail or falter. We shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools and we will finish the job.”
Churchill understood that he couldn’t gloss over the immense challenge facing Great Britain. The adversity was very nearly intolerable, but he recognized that it was also something that would bind his people together to fight for a common cause. He reminded people of their shared goal of defending democracy and overcoming tyranny.
He never said it would be easy – sacrifices would be made – but he made it absolutely clear that it was necessary. At the end of the day, they would persevere together and triumph for the greater good. Everyone was part of the same cause and the shared mission became a big part of their lives.
Fortunately, most of us don’t have the burden and pressure of leading a nation through a war; we’re faced with leading our companies to overcome competition and build market share. It’s a little different when you’re talking life or death, but the same rules apply.
What is your organization fighting for? Why should people get behind management’s vision? How do you define your common cause? How can you get your customers (allies) to rally to your side?
Churchill used the tools he had at his disposal to communicate his message and lead his people: radio, newspapers, newsreels, Parliament and word of mouth. Today, we have many more options, which puts pressure on organizations to make sure they are using the right tactics in the best way possible.
Not sure? Then audit your communications
In his first speech as Prime Minister in 1940, Churhill signalled the change in vision from his predecessor by telling the world, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” There was no mistaking the country’s vision after that.
Okay, so we’re not all Winston Churchill. Most of us need help in the leadership communications department.
If you’re not sure that your communications strategy and tactics are in step with your organization’s vision, then you should consider a communications audit. An audit will dive into your organizational strategy and ask if your communications are in sync. In fact, if you’re not sure, then chances are good that time for an audit is past due.
(Here’s a short slide presentation on audits.)
You should use both qualitative and quantitative research as part of your audit. Qualitative research needs to review the core purpose for your organization through interviews and maybe some facilitated focus groups. You will want to talk to executives, employees and probably customers and vendors. Qualitative research needs to also look at all the tactics and materials you’re using at the moment. Are they in sync with your goals? Are they doing what they need to do? Are there gaps emerging? What are your competitors doing in the same space?
Quantitative research may include analyzing sales, website traffic, social media engagement, customer satisfaction surveys, population and demographic information, and more.
Audits are that critical look you need to take at your own activities. Ask yourself the hard questions. Are your communications tactics really as effective as they could be? Maybe they need to be refined or replaced or – as Churchill showed – rethought all together?
The results of a well-executed communications audit should lead to a stronger content strategy than ever before.