All too often, elaborately created communication strategies end up in a drawer. Although they are initially presented everywhere, since actual implementation is not trivial, many approaches fall short of their potential. Here, therefore – from experience – are a few insider tips on how new communication channels can become reality.
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1) Be serious and take it seriously
In fact, such projects are often more politically driven than genuinely inspired by a desire to turn corporate communications around.
So anyone who recognizes that communications – online or offline – should break new ground, for example, to be more closely aligned with a target group, must be serious.
Because strategy work, which in itself involves many stakeholders and costs resources, is only the beginning. Implementation will involve many more stakeholders (e.g., at the working level), may involve process adjustments and change – and will take time.
It can take a year before solid results are visible here that are sustainably integrated into work practices.
Communication cannot be changed simply at the push of a button – neither in the head nor in the entire, often complex and multimedia communication ecosystem. Because from customer service to the last flyer, the new ways have to be practiced and made visible.
So anyone who thinks that writing down the strategy is the hardest step is underestimating the process. Only those who have enough resources and patience can implement it.
2) Align with people
If you can tick the box on the subject of commitment, the next step is to become aware of what “implementation” means:
It means that all stakeholders involved understand the strategy (the meaning as well as the content) and are able and willing to apply it to their work.
Here it becomes clear: Those who only think “from the point of view” will have a hard time. In fact, the next step is to consider how all relevant stakeholders can be involved.
This partly involves self-reflection (What have I understood? What is good or bad? What do I need to do differently?), but also about a group dynamic, a joint approach as a team. Sparring – in editorial meetings, for example – can be helpful here.
Anyone who approaches the issue of “How do my stakeholders learn what’s new and how it affects them?” cynically or with a crowbar will not see good implementation results.
3) Integrate into everyday life
Integrating complex new thought processes and ways of working into the individual’s daily work routine is not easy in itself.
If you then have few opportunities to repeatedly come into contact with the strategic content, it becomes even more difficult.
Therefore, it should be considered how new content can always be prepared in a tangible and interesting way for interaction – for example, with overview sheets or plots hanging on the walls. Gamification approaches such as quizzes can also be used to create repeated touchpoints that anchor the new content.
4) Keeping an eye on goals
Part of a strategy process is also the definition of (SMART) goals and KPIs. These should already show in daily work where the focus should be and to which topics and actions rather yes or no must and should be said.
Such navigation and conscious use of resources already leads to a more stringent implementation of the strategy and brings communicators closer to their goals.
In fact, it is not only about the “selection” level, but also about the control level: Regular reporting along the KPIs is one of the most important elements in the context of a sustainably successful implementation.
In the best case scenario, performance should be monitored on a monthly basis, lessons learned should be derived, and content, target groups, and working methods should be sharpened accordingly.
5) Consciously discuss and create room for maneuver
An open dialog in the stakeholder team is enormously important to keep buy-in high in the long term.
It is true that the cornerstones of a strategy are in place for about 12 months at best. However, they should also have already been developed in the co-creation principle, so that this usually works well then.
But: There can always be – especially with completely new ways – things that would be better differently: Channels that should not be opened, or multimedia that no longer makes sense.
There must also be room for this in the team. This can be done, for example, when discussing reports or during editorial meetings.
The communications team should know at all times that their expertise and perspective is valuable and can at least be discussed openly.
Anyone who takes these key points of an implementation for a new or adapted communications strategy to heart and puts them into practice will not only be able to make his or her project a reality.
He – or she – can also work with a team to make this communication vision tangible at all touchpoints.
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