On The Record: Three Recommendations for 2024 Communication Planning
November 7, 2023
We know how busy the fourth quarter can be, and when you add 2024 planning on top of that, it’s tempting to use that “copy/paste” function for your 2024 Strategic Communications Plan.
However, a strong communications plan can help unlock potential by capitalizing on upcoming opportunities and preparing for risks. The Wixted team encourages you to think twice about your business and communication goals, and to put the time in now for success next year. We polled our seasoned public relations and training professionals about their top three recommendations to consider for your communications plan in 2024. Keeping these in mind, you can start the new year with confidence in your goals and clarity in your approach.
#1 – Improve your internal communications.
Your employees, board members, and partners are your front-line brand ambassadors. Do they have the same experience with your organization’s values and messages as your external stakeholders? Are you providing the key points you want your stakeholders and influencers to hear?
Especially when organizations are dealing with change, arming your employees with frequent and concise information impacts employee satisfaction and productivity. As we often say at Wixted: “In the absence of information, people will believe the worst.” If your 2024 business plan includes employees returning to the office from remote or hybrid work, contemplating a merger or acquisition, launching a new product line, implementing new software, or experiencing new competition in your industry, now is the perfect time to improve employee and stakeholder communications.
- Provide monthly video messages from key leaders.
- Conduct weekly polls on your intranet to gauge potential issues.
- Create employee-focused social content that rewards action against company goals.
- Explore new technologies, a variety of delivery types, timeframes and content types.
#2 – Develop a robust thought leadership strategy.
Posting the pictures and backgrounders of your leadership team on your website and calling it good is like the old philosophical question: When a tree falls in the forest – if no one sees it, does it make a sound? Your team is worth hearing from, and there are myriad benefits to creating opportunities to showcase their industry expertise. Think beyond the C-Suite. Engineers, human resource directors, scientists, and sales leaders are intriguing candidates for blog posts, trade media interviews, and topical video content. As you showcase your team and expertise, your stakeholders begin to know and trust you – and hopefully work more with you!
- Survey your team to determine their professional organizations where they could provide keynote speeches or participate in a panel discussion. Encourage them to join an organization if they haven’t already.
- Create an editorial calendar to feature team innovations or successes throughout the year in your newsletter or social channels.
- Sponsor or develop a thought leadership platform – local event, industry initiative, or your own company’s platform – to showcase your commitment to the topic at hand. Develop content, recruit leaders and show the communities and stakeholders – including potential partners and employees – what you stand for.
- Identify candidates for media training, creating an internal speaker’s bureau prepared for media opportunities.
#3 Update (or create!) your issues management and crisis communication plan.
If the last three years have taught us nothing else, this recommendation could save you time, stress, and, potentially, your career. Every industry is impacted by the economy, environmental crises, workforce turmoil, data breaches, and politics. Next, layer in potential lawsuits, accidents, weather incidents, product recalls, theft – you get the idea.
Some organizations may think that if they were able to get through the pandemic without a plan, they don’t need one now. This is not true, as stakeholders’ expectations are higher than ever before, and the public’s perception of your organization can change dramatically in a short amount of time. Developing a current and annually updated crisis and issues management plan and training stakeholders on that plan are the best ways to prepare for the unexpected and maintain your reputation in the long-term.
- Review your employee handbook. Do you have policies for crisis management, media management, and social media?
- Think about the last time your organization dealt with a crisis or issue. Did you conduct a debrief and update your policy?
- Audit your industry and supply chain. Have you observed a crisis that has impacted your industry or your productivity? Would your organization be prepared in the same instance?
- Present a case study to leadership to familiarize them with the idea and concept, and how the process would work. Seek a partner like Wixted if you need help getting started.
By taking the time to think through these three recommendations, your organization can prepare to increase success and decrease stress in 2024.
At Wixted & Company, we’re familiar with the power of purposeful and strategic communication and the impact this has on your brand and stakeholders. There’s no one better to tell your story than you. And we’re skilled at helping you develop and present your story. If you’re ready to power up your 2024 communications strategy, contact us today and put our experience to work.
This article was created by Ann Appleseth, who recently joined Wixted & Company as a Strategic Communication Director.