Corporate communications, when handled properly, puts your company in good light and shares important information with your employees. However, if your company communicates poorly with the media or employees, you can run into problems. That’s why communications planning and preparation are so important.

You have three general audiences to consider for your corporate communications plan. The first audience is your employees; the second is investors or other company stakeholders; the third is the media and the public.

Each of these audience groups needs something a little different from you.

Here are some best corporate communications practices to consider:

A consistent tone and brand “voice.”

While each group will want slightly different information, a consistent tone and voice are essential. While your employees will likely want more details, the media may only be interested in a few topline bullets. But no matter what is shared, it needs to be consistent. You can’t tell one group one thing and another group something else.

Define the purpose of every communication.

When communicating with your employees, stakeholders, and the public, make sure that each piece of content or information is well-thought-out. What do you want to say in the communication? What do you want the audience to do once they get it? What is the desired result? Think about all these questions before you hit ‘send’ or post that information online.

Communicate to all audiences promptly.

If the message you need to send is time-sensitive—such as information about a new product release or a response to a slow-moving crisis—you need to prepare the messages days in advance and have them approved by all levels of leadership. You can then communicate in a “cascade,” ensuring all the audiences hear the messages in a tight sequence.

Follow up with honesty and transparency.

Once you have reached out, you should expect to get questions and hear concerns. Be prepared to respond with honest information that answers the question or addresses the problem. You should also follow up in the same way you shared the news. For example, if you announced a new company policy to employees via email, you should be prepared to respond with an email.

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