Effective Communication Plan
Communication is considered as the most influential part of an organization’s operations as it affects not only their corporate image but also their market performance. When choosing a communications plan, great emphasis should be made on the kind of image the company would like to create. It often provides a basis for the communications strategy to be created. It means that depending on the needs of the company, the communication plan must provide the required image and make certain effects on the stakeholders. While developing a communication plan, it is important to note that there is a big difference between public relations and advertising and that the social media is a great and influential tool of successful company operation. Thus, planning effective communication entails using public relations, advertising, and social media in their specific ways.
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Kelley and Jugenheimer (2008) emphasize on the fact that communication does not only concern the correspondence between the company and its stakeholders. It also involves certain actions and the way the company performs them. It means that the basic aspect of a communication plan is focused on the actions of the business organization, its business practices, human resources, and relations between investors, suppliers, and distributors. Public relations as a concept refers to all the activities undertaken by the company with an aim of shaping public opinion concerning their corporate image. Thus, public relations include such practices as:
- Outstanding corporate citizenship
- Good employee relations
- Transparent and accountable corporate governance
- Effective internal marketing when it comes to dealing with the suppliers, distributors, and vendors.
The company has to organize their operations in such a way that all the stakeholdersare treated well in order to create the perfect corporate image. Manipulations can be effected in the advertising section of communication. However, public relations is focused on actions and therefore, the organization must create and uphold an appropriate image. For organization to be effective in its communication, it has to ensure that it controls the information about their actions delivered to various stakeholders. In addition, due to some issues with the media freedom and other uncensored ways of sharing information, it is reasonable to partake in activities that cannot damage the company’s reputation if publicized. One of the peculiarities of the public relations is that they are supposed to be at relatively low cost since they are controlled by the media and the society. However, without proper attention, it may be the most expensive mistake for the organization.
Advertising involves communication with the stakeholders informing them about the company’s products and services. Moreover, the company has to explain them all advantages of their cooperation. From a communications perspective, advertising concerns appealing to the stakeholders by:
- capturing their attention
- provoking their interest
- stimulating their desire
- inspiring their action
This part of communication plan for a business organization involves creating and promoting market awareness, ensuring that its efforts bring positive results and increase sales. Kotler, Kartajaya, and Setiawan (2010) note that creating an advertisement for the market depends on the target audience, corporate image, as well as market position. It means that while it is controlled by the company, there are numerous factors that affect company’s operation and thus, they must be taken into consideration. Consistency and relevance of the messages being sent are the major determinants of the campaign’s success. The communication plan has to ensuure not only that the message matches the corporate image and market position but also that it is consistent within all media relevant to the target audience.
The Social Media
It is a special part of the organization’s communication plan, which can be used for different kinds of interaction with the stakeholders. The social media, unlike the traditional media, is digital advertising involving a two way interaction with the stakeholders. The company owns their digital space, but it does not necessarily control it given that it is a free space for all parties interested in its activities. It makes it a communication channel, through which the organization can have real time conversations with the customers, investors, suppliers, distributors, vendors, benefactors, and other interested groups including competitors. It is an advantage, but it can also be a threat if not managed well. The problem with having a real time communication on the social media platforms is that there is quite a large audience, and the company cannot control the direction of the conversations (Percy, & Rosenbaum-Elliott, 2012). It provokes much controversy as in the case with the McDonald’s on Twitter. However, with good PR, the social media would serve as a tool of attracting the stakeholders and creating sustainable relationships with everyone who has an interest in the company.
When designing a communications plan, companies usually need to consider all the important aspects of communication including customer relations, sales support, sponsorships, and exhibits depending on their line of business. Advertising and PR cover most of the communication needs, and a thorough consideration of these aspects often proves invaluable to the entire business. Advertising is a way the company tells the consumers what it wants them to think about its business, while PR is a way to show its stakeholders what the company really is.
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