By Ronell Swartbooi - DUO Marketing + Communications
Iíve seen technology companies shifting their business goals three to four times within an eighteen-month period. This is understandable, as economies change, markets become more competitive or are disrupted by startups, new investors coming on board or target audiences changing. No matter the reason, being forced to shift business goals can be taxing on your business.
While you are focusing on business strategy and product enhancements or new product developments, consider how your communications team can support this process? How can they back the product and sales team and provide peace of mind when you are ready to go to market?
Here are a few key points to consider:
Ensure that your communications team fully understands current business shifts. The value of monthly business updates to your communications team goes a long way, if your goal is to ensure that all your stakeholders are in the know, and that potential customers reading any news updates about your business - across all available platforms - understand your current offering and value proposition.
To avoid being on the backfoot:
Encourage engagement between your developer / product teams and the communications team. Make this a fun exercise and use gamification tools if you need to in order to bridge the conversation between the geeks and the creatives. Why? This allows two very distinct teams to provide clarity on how they support each other, how their work complements another teamís results and very importantly, it avoids miscommunication to external audiences. The worst is reading an article that needs correction when you have already done the work to put it out there.
Do a Google search to see if news online reflects the messages you want your audiences to see. If you are not impressed by what you see, itís time to beef up your communication outputs. Review your content marketing , have a chat with your SEO person (if you donít have one, aim to get a once-off analysis). All Iím saying is, do not underestimate the harmful influence outdated online content can have on your business. It has the potential to counter the hard work of your sales team and executives travelling to expos.
ďIn the absence of clear communication that satisfies the urgent desire to know what the boss is really thinking, people imagine all kinds of motives. The result is often sloppy behavior and misalignment that can cost a company dearly. Precious time is wasted, rumors abound, talented people lose their focus, big projects fail.Ē Harvard Business Review, The Five MessagesLeaders Must Manage (2006)
Every company with or without a dedicated communications team, needs to have the following documents at hand. By developing and updating these quarterly, your communications team stays on top of specific business changes, and management gets into the habit of sharing relevant shifts that impact external communications.
- Company fact sheet (for the media and stakeholders): Similar to the About section on your website. An updated, one-pager that your team can easily attach or paste into an email. This comes in handy and saves times when stakeholders or the media have quick questions and no time to search your website.
- Key messaging / keywords/ quotes (for spokespersons): This one-pager provides executives and your communications team with a golden thread to keep all communications aligned with business goals. Never underestimate the value of making your executive team feel confident that they are sharing the right message. By also providing your communications team with well-researched keywords, they can ensure that your SEO ranking is on point when developing blogs, thought leadership and case studies etc.
- Updated executive bios, including high resolution photos and updated LinkedIn profiles: Often these tools are underrated. The worst is when media decide to Google and use a 5 year old photo of an executive at a conference in bad lighting. This is a once off annual exercise that can save you time in the long term, and could potentially make or break a feature opportunity in a business print publication.
Watch this space for Part 2: How to shift from startup to enterprise messaging.
About Ronell Swartbooi:
Ronell Swartbooi, currently works as a Tech PR Account Manager at DUO Marketing + Communications. Her passion for communications and networking with entrepreneurs is what inspired her to change careers to technology PR. Africaís rapid growth in technology is what has fueled her interest to communicate innovation out of Africa.
Prior to tech PR, Ronell worked in the nonprofit sector as a project manager for seven years, facilitating a youth media & leadership project. She dabbled in blogging and website admin/ basic HTML before blogger influencers were a thing.
Ronell has attained a degree in Media Studies at the University of Cape Town, as well as short course diplomas in Marketing and Public Relations at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.