When good things happen, it’s natural to want to shout the news from the rooftops (or, in this day and age, perhaps more so the top of your Twitter feed). You want to cast a wide net and seize the maximum amount of opportunity the good news affords to grow your business and strengthen your position in the marketplace. However, before you think about going far and wide, it’s important to look within – how will you break the news to your current stakeholders and ensure they are well-informed before your announcement becomes highly public front-page news?
Demonstrate that you value your existing stakeholders
From employees and board members to loyal customers and referral sources, ensuring your existing audiences are the first to learn of any breaking news is critically important. Why? Well…
- Ensuring those who represent your organization are “in the know” helps to minimize the spread of misinformation.
- Keeping customers in-the-loop strengthens client retention.
- Making sure referral sources are up-to-date on what’s happening at your organization increases the likelihood of them introducing you to new clients who are a good fit for your business.
- Fear of the unknown is powerful and proactively answering questions that clients and other stakeholders may have regarding a merger, acquisition, new product/service offerings, etc. helps make stakeholders feel at ease. It also demonstrates that your organization is attuned to their wants/needs.
- A clearly defined plan for sharing news ensures all audiences are reached, preventing communications gaps that can lead to feelings of ill will, the spread of misinformation and stakeholder dissatisfaction.
- Your brand reputation is among your most valuable assets and you need to do everything you can to protect it.
Everyone’s needs are different
An organization’s current stakeholders often encompasses a broad range of audiences. And, the information that is most salient to each is far from universal. For example…
Let’s say your company has recently acquired one of its competitors. The acquisition will allow you to expand your service offerings and lower the price point on your product/service. You’ve decided to retain a large percentage of the incoming firm’s workforce and will be effectively doubling the size of your sales team. While this scenario is certainly one rich with opportunity, it also comes with careful communication considerations.
- You need to ensure your existing staff as well as your incoming staff are well-versed in the full suite of offerings. Both will be selling products/services that are new to them and it’s important that everyone is reading from the same book, so to speak. This requires proactive messaging workshops and staff training.
- You have two groups of customers who are accustomed to working with different organizations. Both should be among the first to know what will be changing and receive reassurance that everything possible will be done to ensure a smooth transition.
- You have two unique brand identities that will soon become one. How will you maintain the consistency of your brand while integrating the appropriate components of the recently acquired company’s brand? That is to say, how will you ensure old messaging doesn’t make its way into a newsletter, sales presentation or media coverage. Again, this requires thoroughly training internal stakeholders to be effective messengers for your business.
While the above considerations require a fair amount of planning, they are also strong illustrations of the importance of informing existing stakeholders of key news before it makes its way into the mainstream. Once you made your public announcement, media may call with questions. It is important they are getting the correct information from the onset. It is also important that your sales team, Board Members (if applicable), referral sources and the like are sharing the right messages with their own contacts. In a world where news spreads in real-time, it doesn’t take long for one small piece of misinformation shared with a small group of people to become widely known and taken as fact.
As you delve deeper into your business plans for the weeks, months and years ahead, remain committed to keeping existing stakeholders well-informed. From your employees to your customers, the network of brand ambassadors you already have are a powerful communication channel. By equipping them with the right information, you can not only minimize the potential for a communication crisis (the worst case scenario) but maintain goodwill by demonstrating that you value the audiences you have worked so hard to cultivate and maintain.