ISOC experts can help build a sophisticated communication strategy for your organisation

Communication is evolving from a tactical art to a business science. Organisations that understand reputation as a strategic asset are empowering communication as a core function. This status brings new responsibilities, and management expect communication departments to raise their game.

A strategic function needs a business-like strategy – but designing a communication strategy is a complex challenge.

  • This must be a living strategy, not a heavy document that gathers dust.
  • It must explicitly integrate with top-level strategy and visibly support business goals.
  • It must involve every department and every stakeholder, inside and out.
  • It must connect intangible ingredients like sentiment and advocacy with measurable targets and justifiable budgets.
  • It must govern the abstract complexity of modern communication while also giving pragmatic guidance in a simple framework.

How ISOC can help

ISOC regularly helps organisations of all sizes to design sophisticated communication strategies. Our experts specialise in strategy development and bring international best practice based on personal experience of communication strategy development at other organisations.

How it works

Every organisation needs a different level of support for communication strategy. You may need just a few days’ help with feedback and fine-tuning an existing strategy. At the other end of the scale, you may wish to fully outsource the development process. You may have an open mind and be looking for budgets and options for how we could get involved.

Following is an overview of some of the key steps in a typical project.

Scoping

We will meet with key people in your organisation and recommend a fully costed scheme of work based on that consultation. Generally this will include a menu of service levels and price point, with specific deliverables.

Team

We will assign to the project a team of consultants, all of whom are director-level communication strategists with at least 15 years’ experience. They will take a collaborative approach and work alongside communication departments, since they ultimately will own and deliver the strategy.

Intelligence

Information gathering is based on document review and structured interviews with communication directors and usually also key senior managers. Key areas include:

  • Business strategy: what does communication need to achieve?
    • Top-level business strategy and management expectations
    • Business goals that communication should support
    • Existing communication activities
  • Communication capacity: what tools do we have to work with?
    • Human resources: teams and skills
    • Budgets including for external agencies
    • Soft resources: messages, policies, procedures, templates, etc.
  • External environment: what will we communicate about, and who with?
    • Reputation audit
    • Issues mapping
    • Stakeholder mapping

Development

The ISOC team will evaluate the intelligence and develop the strategy section by section in an iterative process: as each is reviewed, we move on to the next. The process begins with top-level analysis and frame-working through to granular detail on initiatives, and supporting sections such as budgeting and resources.

What it looks like

Since every organisation has unique expectations and challenges, every communication strategy is entirely customised. In general, we find the following structure useful:

Situation analysis

A summary analysis of the status quo based on insights from the intelligence gathering phase, structured to explain and justify later recommendations.

Strategy framework

A hierarchy of top-level goals, tactical objectives that serve those goals, practical initiatives that serve those objectives, and KPIs that measure success.

Action plan

A time-line for roll-out of specified initiatives with project milestones and ownership. The schedule will generally mix quick wins and slow-burn projects.

Resources

A global budget with costing breakdown per initiative, and recommendations for human resource and soft resource development necessary for identified goals.

Options and extras

The following ISOC service modules may be included in a strategy development project:

External research

External research can provide a valuable evidence base for communication strategy, including to target topics and messages and measure impacts. We can execute quantitative and qualitative tools such as surveys and focus groups.

Communication skills

Many strategies require communication departments to build human capacity. We can conduct competency mapping to identify gaps and build training programmes to fill them. Find out more…

Message development

Messaging and positioning is essential to strategic communication. We can support message development either part of the strategy or as a standalone process. Find out more…

Crisis communication

ISOC supports crisis communication preparedness including the design of communication resources and processes, and also crisis communication simulations. Find out more…

Communication departments

ISOC advises on the design or restructuring of communication departments, including people, systems, policies, procedures, templates and resources. Find out more…

Case studies

We have helped to create dozens of communication strategies worldwide for organisations of all sizes, including:

  • National governments
  • Fortune Global 500 companies
  • International institutions
  • Charities and NGOs
  • SMEs

Training courses on communication strategy

You may also be interested in the following ISOC public short courses on communication strategy, all of which run regularly at our training centres in London and Dubai.