There’s no shortage of advice on communications but here are 10 rules to help you get your message across to both investors and other important targets.

  1. Decide what you wish to achieve by communicating – whether it’s creating demand for your equity, generating interest among potential strategic partners, minimising damage caused by an unwelcome development in your business or market, or stimulating for your product or service.
  2. Develop a plan. Preparation is crucial in getting your message across. This involves looking forward systematically – days, months and years – while being flexible enough to negotiate the inevitable changes ahead.
  3. Get the message right. It may sound simple but defining what you want to say requires thought and discussion.
  4. Know your audience – they’re the people you really want to convince. Establish who should be included, what they’re looking for in communications and how you’ll deliver it.
  5. Be clear. Professional investors, especially, look at dozens, even hundreds of companies, so the easier others can understand what you do and what makes you different, the more likely you are to secure their attention.
  6. Set benchmarks. So they can evaluate your progress, people will want to know what to expect from your business and when, and to test you against your strategy. Keep them fully informed.
  7. Maintain momentum – in tough markets especially, no news is bad news and when things go quiet, people tend to assume the worst. Similarly, those coming afresh to your company will be looking for a track record to understand how you got where you are.
  8. Keep up to date. To inform your own key audiences and reassure them of your competitive advantage, you should demonstrate a thorough understanding of your own market.
  9. Use what’s available. Through the media especially, you can reach new audiences quickly and widely. But you should consider all opportunities to convey your message – in person, through colleagues and staff, and through other influential groups such as financial intermediaries. Your information channels should probably include presentations, industry events, website, electronic newsletters, social media and professional bodies.
  10. Don’t hide – the real test of a communicator comes when things go wrong. In these circumstances it is crucial to get on the front foot and establish a presence, so others don’t dictate events for you.
  11. Consider your own reputation. Stakeholders want to know their company is in experienced, responsible hands. To provide valuable reassurance, develop your profile as an expert.
  12. Be honest – reputations are hard won and easily lost.