The role of research in developing Europeanwide corporate communications

Date of publication: June 15, 1991


Industrial organizations are increasingly being faced with the challenge of deciding how best to communicate - on a European-wide basis - not just with their customers, suppliers, and shareholders, but with a wider audience of stakeholders. These include authorities and bodies involved with the environment, and others whose individual or corporate lives are linked to the fortunes of the company in question. In this paper the authors provide guidance on the role survey research can play in helping international organisations shape an effective communications strategy to meet the needs and expectations of different audiences. This is achieved by drawing on the authors' experience of conducting a major European survey among different target audiences on behalf of Dow Europe, one of the world's leading chemicals and plastics companies. The aim of the survey, which involved 444 telephone interviews, was to help Dow position itself in the plastics industry and develop an appropriate communications strategy: who should Dow be talking to; what should they be saying; how should they be saying it; how much should they invest in the communications process? In this paper the authors summarise the main findings of the survey, including the fact that there is interest from a number of quarters in the plastics industry in more actively addressing various environmental issues. The authors then review the way the survey findings have helped guide Dow's positioning strategy, before providing a number of more general observations about the role research can play in the development of European-wide communications. The central message is that research can help identify, and understand the needs of, the expanding audience for corporate communications.

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