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Created on 31.01.2019

Communication is more than advertising

Communication is your bridge to the outside world. It connects you to anyone who may be interested in your company. This is why you should pay great attention to exactly what and how you are communicating. This article explains all you need to know about successful corporate communications.

“One cannot not communicate” is a famous quotation from the psychologist Paul Watzlawick. And it’s true, everything we do, or, by the same token, do not do is a form of communication. Your company consists of a highly diverse network of relationships to existing and potential customers, suppliers and manufacturers, employees and authorities. You need to actively structure these relationships – how you communicate plays a vitally important role here.

That’s why communication is more than just advertising

If you want to sell your product or service to a particular target group, you usually need to carry out advertising campaigns first. Whether in printed or digital format – you highlight the benefits of your solution and directly encourage people to buy it. You usually also indicate the price and locations where potential customers can buy your product. However, communication means much more than simply encouraging customers to purchase your product.Many more relationships exist in and around the “biotope” of your company which you need to address with professional corporate communications. How do you communicate with potential applicants or current employees? What about with the general public? What do you do if your company needs to carry out lobbying activities? Advertising alone would be the wrong approach. A more comprehensive yet precise view of corporate communications is required.

What should your communications cover?

Corporate communications is a vague term to which many different definitions have been attributed. Depending on the viewpoint, marketing, for example, is also classified as a sub-area. Other people see corporate communications as being subordinate to marketing. Leaving marketing aside, you should focus your attention on the following areas:

  • A professional image establishes trust and helps you to position yourself as an expert in your field. It’s important that your image reflects your company’s values and products.Unsuitable or incorrect communication can result in serious damage to your image and customer relationships.A professionally created and systematically implemented brand identity, including corporate design, is therefore crucial. This includes the design of your website, your brochures and product information, as well as your logo and perhaps your slogan.

  • PR aims to create a positive vibe around your company and your products and services. It’s all about connections – what do you associate a particular product with? For example, PR tasks include media relations. This is also sometimes categorized separately. Can you get your service featured in the press or on TV? The media provides a vital link between you and your stakeholders. This does not just involve proactive media relations, where you present your products and services or company in a positive light in the media as far as possible, for example, through a press release on a new product or an interview. The key thing here is to define messages for your company or products which can be communicated externally. Good media relations can be crucial in crises or when issues crop up. Issues can arise if one of your products is defective, for instance. Issues can take many forms – supplier relations, advertising campaigns, pricing policy or employees can present issues which the media picks up on.

  • Do you operate in a highly regulated area? Then it is important that you open up a direct line of communication to decision-makers in politics and the administration. They need to know what your company is doing and how it will be affected by their decisions. Governmental relations is the interface between business, politicians and society. Lobbying presents an opportunity to provide politicians and the administration with information about your issues.

  • Investor relations is directed towards a very specific target group called the financial community. It includes investors, analysts and the financial media and business press. The aim here is to communicate your company’s performance effectively so that the financial community can assess your company. For example, this includes communications on your quarterly figures or financing rounds. 

  • Many companies make the mistake of focusing solely on communication with external stakeholders. Your workforce is your company’s most important resource, which is why it should definitely be included in your communications strategy. How, when and in what framework will you inform your staff about changes, targets and developments at your company, for example?

Which channels should you use?

Social networks have created a range of new channels, providing you with access to various target groups and many ways of interacting. Alongside these, the tried-and-tested channels obviously continue to exist too: they include the website as your gateway to the world and your company’s business card, face-to-face communication at trade fairs, events and promotions or traditional advertising in newspapers, on billboards or on TV and radio. Instead of viewing every channel in isolation, you should tell stories about your company which can be tailored appropriately to very different channels. After all, the trend is moving towards integrated communications. This does not mean that you should be present everywhere like some kind of “jack of all trades” and become overwhelmed. Depending on the company, social media, for example, does not have equal importance – it is ideal for reaching certain target groups (but not all) and presenting the company in a different light. Messages can also be dependent on channels. Draw up a plan for the different content you want to present on the different channels. Videos on products or services, for example, are often ideal for online communication. In contrast, traditional press releases are better for communicating financial figures or management changes. 

The communications strategy will help you to implement your communications campaigns

As part of your communications strategy, you should therefore consider who you wish to address, how and with which resources.Decide on who your key stakeholders are and determine where their interests lie? What is the best way to reach them? What language is required? What images are appropriate for your product and target group?

Communication plays a hugely significant role in your company and should most certainly not be neglected. First, think about what makes your company stand out and how you can present this unique selling point most effectively. It is often advisable to consult communications experts who can help you to find and implement a suitable brand identity and communications strategy for your company.

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