Strategic communication key in institutions’ growth

Monday, April 26th, 2021 00:00 | By
Office space. Photo/Courtesy

Kevin Mabonga 

The recent interviews for the position of Chief Justice drewn many lessons depending on which angle you look at the exercise.

To me, and I believe this applies to many communication practitioners, it emphasised the importance of strategic communications at institutional level.

All candidates interviewed were able to, at some point, share strategies they would employ to improve communications.

On this, I must commend the Judicial Service Commission for placing emphasis on the matter.

A scholar defined strategic communication as “the purposeful use of communication by an organisation to fulfill its mission”.

Well-designed communications programmes are essential in sharing important information for an organisation thus informing their goals and objectives.

Without telling people who you are and what you do, then you leave a gap where people form an opinion from uninformed point of view — and that is who you become to them.

It then becomes difficult to reverse the perception. Organisations should, therefore, put deliberate efforts to ensure it reaches its publics in the most effective way and the sure way to do this is through a communications plan.

This helps an organisation to mitigate any communication-related crisis or professionally handle one among other benefits.

While an effective communication plan involves several aspects, the audience is very powerful.

Someone once said: “If you want to create messages that resonate with your audience, you need to know what they care about.” 

The first step towards knowing your audience is by conducting an audience analysis.

Understanding the audience places you in a good position to design appropriate messages to be received as intended and use the most appropriate channel of communication. 

There have been many instances where an appropriate message is shared to a wrong target group or otherwise thus a failure in communication.

It is important to note that the audience we are dealing with today is different from that of a few years back.

I would describe it as an active audience. They do not just accept every message as it is.

Instead, they actively engage, question and come up with own interpretations based on life experiences, education, cultural influences among other factors.

One would then wonder why the audience is increasingly becoming interactive.

With the growth of social media and other digital platforms, communication has found its meaning in that the audience get a chance for instant feedback.

There are millions of social media sites users who are not only observing what brands are saying but getting involved in the conversations.

For example, how social media users, specifically Kenyans on Twitter (KoT) have become powerful in shaping the daily conversations, including providing feedback to the issues being discussed.

It is interesting today one can get to Twitter and follow the analysis of Kenyans on current affairs — lately, the Building Bridges Initiatives and the CJ interviews

Other than the growth of digital media, Covid-19 has disrupted communication. Face-to-face communication has been been replaced by group email, teleconferencing, Zoom, Skype or any other type of online communication.

While we may miss the benefits of face-to-face communication, the embrace of technology in communication is advantageous to both individuals and institutions in the long run. 

To ensure important information gets to the right people through appropriate channels, organisations should invest in a communications plan.

A communication by Dr Michelle Mazur, a message coach, sums this discussion well: “When people act on your message, they begin to change, they don’t just change behaviour, they change identity, they begin to become someone new because of your message.”  — The writer a communications practitioner

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