Dr. Charles Ebereonwu
…Strategic communication achieves organisational objectives
Speaking recently at a webinar event organised by the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) on the theme: The Role of Communication in Industry-Academia Collaboration, Dr. Charles Ebereonwu, posited that communication is an act or action of conveying messages, feelings, intentions, plans, as well as receiving same to and from a target audience or stakeholder.
It can be done verbally or non-verbally, or by use of technology in terms of Information Communication and Technology (ICT).
He explained further on various types of communication which can be verbal and non-verbal, internal, external, formal and informal. All these can be used either one or in combinations, depending on the purpose, target or intention.
In the communication process or modes, internal communication which is internet or intranet is used. It is an internal website which every staff personnel has access to and the company post news broadcast. It is an electronic noticeboards.
Emails, speeches and meetings are used to disseminate information. Meetings are also modes of communication. For external communication, there is internet websites, emails and telephones are also used including advertisements. Advertisements are tools for communication, but with the purpose of making sales or for commercials activities.
According to Dr. Ebereonwu, press statements and releases are used to make important announcements.
“A strategic plan for every communication to be made to align with organisation’s communication should be drawn, however, this strategy must be functionally defined to create value. So if in the value creation process, you’re able to align your communication strategy, that’s when you will be able to meet the needs of your stakeholders.”
He emphasised on the need for strategic communication, saying “This is the only way communication can help in the achievement of organisational objectives because you can’t be talking Tom and communicating Jerry”
Communication strategy is a management function to pass message and receive feedback from targeted audience.
Hence, there is need for strategic communication plan drawn to cover both internal and external stakeholders. Particularly, for the activities programs on key messages of the organisation in a given year. It should also contain financial projections for achievement of stated objectives.
Dr. Ebereonwu advised PTI that management must approve communication plan before its implementation because it is a management tool to build effective communication.
“The next thing to be done is stakeholder’s mapping and targeted communication.” Who are your stakeholders? By now PTI, “you know your stakeholders for you to do any communication, you must do segmentation of your stakeholders, identify all of them, because you’re not going to use the same communication strategy or materials for all stakeholders.”
He noted that the same communication approach for all identified stakeholders may not produce desired results. Identify your stakeholders, create and cultivate special messages that are suitable. “If you don’t do that, you will just be trained to clap with one hand, which is not possible when we are talking about industry, academia collaboration.”
There should be mutual understanding. Guide your audience with both academic and business research methods. Identify your research problem. Identify the context of what you want and know the needs of the institution and academia including their capacities.
The aspect of training cannot be overemphasised as most present day graduates need retraining before they can start working which would have been prevented if there was appropriate collaboration between industry and academia.
Industry has to collaborate with academia to articulate curriculum that would fit the needs of industry in order not to produce people that are not relevant.
“We have to establish the fact that there are lots of advantages we can gain by collaborating between these two institutions through effective communication of ideas.”
In communicating for results, credibility must be established.
One of the strategies in establishing credibility with an audience, is by asking questions they don’t have answers. “If you know the answer, by the time it is answered correctly, they will know you are an expert.”
To make your message credible, connect with the audience for result. Craft the message such that it will be easy to understand.
“Although, it will be with technical jargon, so as to demonstrate your knowledge on the topic as an expert. This is important to ensure that people receive and understand your argument for you to have support.”
Buttressing his point, Dr. Ebereonwu was of the view that effective communication entails possessing messages that are easier to think, understand and remember which is generally seen as authentic and true.
“Let people know they are important in every discourse and their views matter. Human beings like to be recognised as important in communications.”
In communicating your message to your audience, use bullet points, titles and subtitles to avoid long prose of presentation so that they will not get bored and lose interest.
Engage in shortcuts by using titles and subtitles which will be easy to remember. Do what will make people listen to you, not sleeping until you finish the talk.