Young, rapidly growing organizations are exciting. The pace is fast, and everything—markets, the product or service, the organization itself—is in a constant state of flux and evolution. But that can make communicating tough: The story changes and messaging shifts. Executives can’t agree on a visual identity. The website redesign gets put on the back burner. Collateral seems outdated two weeks after it’s finished.
In situations like these, the key to reaching your strategic communications goals is staying on the offensive. Here are a few surefire ways to achieve communications sanity during rapid change.
Get the basics in order. Make sure you have a strong foundation for communications: a clear picture of your market position, where you want to go, the people you need to reach to get there, and what they care about. Don’t spend money on new materials before you have that foundation: if you need a new brand identity but do a quick and dirty job just because you want your old logo off the website now, you’ll launch a cycle of costly and not-quite-on-target revisions.
Focus on loyalists. Stay in touch with the people who are key to your success, even if you communicate with no one else. And recognize that they may need more communication, not less, if you’re in a state of change. Communication with key audiences doesn’t have to be fancy (in some circumstances, it shouldn’t be), but it should answer questions that are likely to come up.
Keep it lean. Now is not the time to take on optional projects or complicated marketing initiatives.
Keep it simple. It’s always better to do a few things well than many things badly. Always.
Build in flexibility. The ability to quickly accommodate internal changes and respond to shifts in the market without overhauling everything will help you stay current. Make sure your website is structured for easy revision and expansion, for example, and print only what you need.
Control freelancing. When targets are constantly moving, people often step up and create their own materials, thinking they are helping. They’re not: “freelance” communications confuse messaging at best and cost you credibility at worst. If you see this happening, put a stop to it—and take the hint that the freelancers need communications support.