Communications consulting is a profession that assists companies and other organizations to determine what they need in the way of communications equipment and services in order to function with maximum efficiency. In many instances, consultants will not only advise on what is needed to establish a viable communications network, but also actively assist in the purchase process. The exact approach followed by a communications consultant will vary based on the culture of the company, the current type of services and equipment needed, and the company’s plans for short term and long term growth.
The goal of communications consulting is to ensure that the client has everything required to manage communications efforts successfully and be poised for future expansion of the communication network. At the same time, consultants will also be sensitive to any limitations on the part of the client. For example, if a company has a limited budget to devote to revamping or establishing a communications network, the consultant will seek to identify the most critical devices and services required and make sure they are established first. Remaining line items are prioritized based on desirability and the remaining balance of the funds set aside to create the network.
Webster defines communications as “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.” It’s important to note here the word exchange. Communication is more than just the delivery of information; inherent in effective communication is also the receipt of information. Thus, communication necessitates a symbiosis between two or more parties both of which are communicating to each other.
Understanding the messaging your company is sending (both directly and indirectly) is critical to achieving your business strategy. However, understanding audiences perceive the message (how your company is perceived) is only a third of the overall equation. A successful company is able to:
- Understand how the company is perceived both internally and externally
- Determine how the company wants to be perceived (branding)
- Create the messaging that furthers that perception to obtain business goals (communication strategy)
Once a business has a handle on these general areas, then the business is in a much more advantageous position to quickly respond to market pressures, negative public perceptions, organizational changes, and other internal and external forces.
Your overall brand and will seek to achieved desired results as defined by your business goals.
A communications consultant can be viewed much like a business analyst. You can bring in a consultant to assist with a variety of needs large or small depending on the issue you’d like to address. For example, you may want a communications consultant to help with:
- Developing a communications strategy or plan
- Advice on communication best practices
- Assistance with communicating organizational changes
- Reviewing current communication activities and identifying areas for improvement
- Developing measurement tactics for gauging the effectiveness of communication activities
- Training internal teams on effective communication tactics
- Assisting with responding to a crisis or negative public perceptions
- Developing methods to effectively align internal communication activities within different parts of the organization
- Developing key messaging for external audiences
Medium-sized businesses may or may not have a person or a dedicated team who is responsible for managing communications, and corporations will typically have multiple internal communication teams. A communications consultant can be of value for these businesses who may want an outside, third-party perspective on certain communication activities or plans, or they may need additional advice before implementing a new communication strategy. Some communication consultants are also trained in Organizational Change Management (OCM), a skill these businesses may not have in-house.
Some business owners are content and satisfied with their current state, and that’s great. Just keep in mind that markets change, marketing and communication practices evolve with culture and new technology, customer needs continually shift, and competitors are always looking for advantages. A communications consultant can help ensure you and your business is aware of and prepared for those circumstances.