In earlier posts, I discussed some of the most vital skills required to be a successful Chief Executive Officer.
As you may have noticed, the recurring theme in those columns—and many others that have pertained to successfully managing a growing company—was the absolutely essential need for clear and consistent corporate communications.
Now, on the surface, that may seem to be a given—after all, in business it’s only natural that within an organization employees consistently communicate with their managers, while externally, salespeople regularly communicate with their customers. However, as an organization grows, it also becomes increasingly important that the company consistently communicate with all of its stakeholders—internally as well as externally–as well as the media, which often serves as the conduit for communication between business and the public.
For the senior management of any business, the task of successfully communicating—both internally and externally—has always been somewhat of a challenge, albeit a necessary part of ‘doing business.’ Entrepreneurs are, by their nature, often more focused on building their businesses, rather than sharing their corporate stories.
It’s also ironic, but true, that in this Information Age–where the available tools for communication have never been easier to access and utilize–successful ‘Corporate Communications’ has actually become more challenging.
The fact is that in the Internet age–where even your cell phone can provide limitless amounts of news and information at a moment’s notice–people are constantly inundated with information from a seemingly endless number of sources.
Breaking through that informational ‘din’, and actually connecting with your target audience, is indeed a challenge for all business leaders, and one that requires considerable effort and commitment.
For example: in the case of our company, Sackett National Holdings (SNH), successful communications has never been more important. This year, we’re experiencing unprecedented growth, and as a result, we’ve also been hiring a considerable number of new employees to keep up with that expansion.
That is, of course, good news.
Still, it’s increasingly important that we ensure that all of our employees—both existing and new hires—are kept abreast of our diverse and growing business. As we strive to ensure that all of our employees understand the current state of our company–and the direction it’s headed going forward—internal corporate communications has become an even more important priority for our Senior Management team.
One of the benefits of having a ‘tech savvy’ company such as SNH is that we are well suited to utilize technology to benefit not only our clients, but our own internal communication efforts as well.
Still, like many growing and diverse companies, one of the challenges we face in achieving our internal communications objectives is basic geography. Our corporate headquarters is located in Las Vegas, but we also have a large office in San Diego, as well as offices in Ohio and Kansas City; in a less-technological age, that geographic disparity would present significant logistical problems for our communication efforts.
Enter the benefits of technology.
As a method of bridging the geographic distance between our regional offices, and ensuring ‘consistent and clear’ corporate communications—our company recently began providing employees a “CEO Communication” webcast; initially broadcast live, and then posted online for several days in case any employees were unavailable during the original webcast, this video allows me—in my capacity as Chief Executive Officer–to speak directly to all SNH employees, and deliver the good news about our company’s growth and success.
In that same broadcast, we also made a point of singling out several employees for their exceptional work, and thanking them for their efforts on behalf of the company. In addition to sharing information about our company’s growth, we also included some lighter fare, such as photos from company gatherings as well as contests offering employees prizes.
And while internal webcasts are most useful as a means of updating and connecting with staff, I also believe that maintaining the ‘human touch’ is an important element in our internal corporate communication efforts. To that end, we recently held company ‘Town Hall’-type meetings in San Diego and Las Vegas—providing employees with a chance to hear directly from Senior Management about the status of our company, as well as fielding corporate questions from those in attendance.
I was very pleased to find that, in response to an internal survey, 94 percent of our employees said they welcomed the ‘Town Hall’ events, and hoped we would conduct many more on a regular basis; while happy with that result, I wasn’t the least bit surprised, because I recognize the inherent and natural desire of employees to be kept ‘up to speed’ with what’s happening at their place of employment.
Concurrent to our internal communications efforts, our company is also expanding our efforts to reach out to external stakeholders—including current and potential customers—to share information about both our organization, and the innovative products and services we offer.
With double-digit growth, rapid expansion and unique and innovative products to proffer, we’re proud of SNH’s corporate ‘story’, and are committed to the communication efforts required to share our story often, and with as many stakeholders as possible.
In the business world, most commerce can be divided into one of two categories: business-to-business (B2B) as well as business-to-consumer (B2C). At SNH, we’re fortunate to have subsidiaries that are industry leaders in both B2B as well as B2C businesses.
While there may be some minor differences in the way a company approaches communication for a B2B versus B2C audience, it’s imperative that the corporate messaging for both be clear and consistent—and fully aligned with an organization’s internal communications; the several hundred employees who work for our company are our strongest ‘brand’ ambassadors, and ensuring they are fully engaged with our company’s progress is key to our success.
When devising a corporate communications plan, it’s important to keep in mind that throughout all of history, there’s never been a time when information was more readily available–everywhere and all of the time.
Given that reality, one of the most formidable challenges facing organizations—and those charged with running them—is to commit the time, effort and resources required to ensuring successful corporate communications; by doing so, you will also ensure that your company’s story gets heard, and doesn’t fall between the constant ‘clicks’ of the Information Age.