Communications Strategy As White Whale

Stanford Social Innovation Review and Harvard Business Review Are Talking Communications Strategy:

I love the way this recent Stanford Social Innovation Review article opens.

Strategy. It’s the white whale of the social sector. Chances are, the word is hovering in a document on your desk right now. 

Let’s have that one more time. Strategy. It’s the white whale of the social sector. (We English majors love our Melville references.)

So what does it mean?

The white whale was Ahab’s monolithic focus — so monolithic it led to destruction. But seen a new way, the implications of calling strategy “the white whale of the social sector” frames the idea that for enterprise nonprofits and social impact organizations, the best communications must be strategic. Silo-based thinking in which your PR is divided from your social media is divided from your e-newsletter is divided from your blogging, is not strategic. Rather, the re-definition of strategic communications that is leading some of the top business reviews to devote ink to it, connotes a sea change. The current has shifted between old ways and new ways of running the communications side of your nonprofit or business messaging.

The best strategic communications are models of new power, versus old power. New power communications operate with values of being “open, participatory, peer-driven.”

I can’t tell you how often I have heard from business owners that something to do with their communications is “proprietary.” Unless, dear readers, you have a trademark for a social-media sharing app that you have not yet brought to market, proprietary attitudes are actually the opposite of what works today. Peer-driven communications are participatory. This means that as one aspect of strategy, your business or organization should be identifying who to follow based in proclivities of subject matter, based in follower profiles, based in the resonance of what this individual or entity tweets about. You should be encouraging your employees and consultants to tweet using your hashtags and your Twitter handles. You should be encouraging innovative use of social media rather than hierarchical displays of message management.

Strategic communications today are the opposite of zealously guarding what you own, which includes what you know and what you passionately care about.

Consider that the word strategy stemmed originally from the Greek, meaning to win. To win the engagement of audiences you are seeking with your messaging — to win buy-in for the issues that you are working to resolve or the outcomes that you are working to improve — is the goal of best-practice communications strategy.

Tired of thinking in silos? Sound intriguing? Email And Follow @SeanGibbons_ on Twitter.

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