“There’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do. I’d like my life back”; "The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume"; “I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest”; “We had too many people working to save the world”—these statements came from Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP during the Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.
At first heralded for his spontaneity and freewheeling style, he had criticized BP’s previous management, saying, “The top of the organization doesn’t listen sufficiently.” Yet less than four years later, his mastery of communications fundamentals seemed to have left him. Even if we ignore the gaffs in attitude and style, as the self-selected spokesperson for the disaster, Hayward did not have the knowledge set and breadth of information—or neglected to use them—to execute a well-considered, integrated communication strategy that was factual, succinct, and effective.
Having insight into the different forms of your organization’s corporate communications will help you understand why and how integration and consistency are so important in delivering a compelling message to stakeholders both inside and outside your organization. While you may not have a direct role as a designated spokesperson for the organization, today’s multichanneled and porous communication structures expand the likelihood of both intended and unintended miscommunications.
It is important that all forms of corporate communications be integrated. Without thoughtful and focused integration in corporate communications, all of the necessary information may be discovered and conveyed, but the complete picture never comes out as a unified whole. The result is at best confusing and conveys uncertainty in the messaging or, at worst, seems contradictory.
Can you articulate what the primary strategic direction of your organization is? The Accenture Academy course Integrating Corporate Communications
explains why this central message is so important, how it can be a touchstone for motivating your group, and how it can lead to establishing trust and confidence with all the parties your organization comes in contact with: customers, suppliers, vendors, stockholders, and others. With this information, rather than finding yourself tongue-tied and baffled, you can explain a situation, crisis or not, to others in your company, or even serve as an effective spokesperson if assigned that responsibility.