A few weeks ago, my esteemed partner authored a blog post in which he asked, and then answered, the question: “What the heck is Strategic Communications?” If you read John’s post, you’ll learn that this question has been put to us on numerous occasions by clients, prospects, friends and family members since we changed the name of the company almost a year ago.
Among the many things that John articulates in response to that question, particularly in new business situations, is the expanded scope of services that we now offer as a fully integrated strategic communications firm. Interestingly, this response often prompts a follow-up question from prospective clients of late. That question is: “What would you say you do best?”
For me, that question has a very simple answer and it’s one that hasn’t changed since we expanded our scope of services and changed the name of the company. In fact, it hasn’t changed since we started this iteration of the agency over a decade ago. What we do best is develop an in-depth understanding of our clients, their businesses, their objectives, their challenges, their differentiators and the environments in which they operate. We do this before we employ a single tactic on any client’s behalf and we work hard to maintain that understanding throughout the life of the relationship.
Every new client relationship begins with a deep dive discovery session in which we set out to essentially become an extension of our clients’ organizations. We believe now, as we always have, that only by becoming experts in our clients’ businesses can we develop and execute effective communications programs that actually Make a Difference (see what I did there?) for them in the end.
As John explained in his post, the programs we develop for our clients today typically comprise a wider array of tools, tactics, and channels than the programs of a couple years ago. But there is no such thing as an effective ‘one size fits all’ communications program and there never has been. In today’s incredibly-fragmented, highly-specialized communications landscape, it’s both more important and more challenging than ever to answer the following questions:
- Who are you trying to reach?
- Where are you most likely to reach them?
- What do you want them to know about you?
- What behavior are you trying to influence in them?
- What do they want to hear from you?
- How do they want to hear it?
- When do they want to hear it?
- How do they prefer to engage with you in return?
The answers to these questions play a significant role in determining what messages, strategies, tactics and platforms will be most effectively deployed in support of our clients’ objectives. What’s more, the answers are obviously different for every client and some of them change on a regular, and increasingly more frequent, basis.
As the already immense universe of communications vehicles and platforms continues to expand, we all become more fickle and unpredictable consumers of information. The potential for waste in this environment is huge. The potential to send the wrong messages to the wrong recipients via the wrong channels is far greater than it’s ever been before. So unless you have unlimited budgets and a willingness to just throw a ton of stuff up against the wall and see what sticks, you had better find a partner that takes the time to answer those critical questions up front and continues to answer them on an ongoing basis.
So yes, over the course of the past year we have expanded our scope of services and evolved to become a more resourceful, full-service, strategic communications firm. We have a broader array of tools and talented individuals at our disposal and we are adept at deploying each and every one of them in service of our clients’ needs.
But even as we have evolved and grown, we have remained true to the things that have served us and our clients well throughout our history. What we do best is understand our clients’ businesses, then develop and implement programs that are rooted in that understanding and designed to make a measurable difference for them.