A communications plan is an essential tool for any business when it comes to creating a roadmap for communications success over time. For those who may never have created a strategic communications plan before, it’s not a document created overnight. Rather, a thoughtful plan that takes time to create and considers an organizations overall goals and objectives. Although a time commitment, your effort will be well worth it.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are five steps to help get the ball rolling on your strategic communications plan creation.
Determine your objectives. When creating objectives, it’s important to be as specific as possible. What do you want to accomplish? From here keep in mind that only projects and tactics that help reach the objectives should be carried out. At the end of the campaign you should be able to definitively say whether the objective was met.
Identify target audiences and develop key messages. Identify the audience(s) you need to reach in order to achieve your objectives. Once identified, create the appropriate messages that resonate with each target audience. For example, to reach your objectives your target audience might be both Gen X and Baby Boomers. Knowing this helps you create messages and tactics that focus on each of these demographics. Because different audiences care about different things, you will likely need specific and different key messages for each group.
Determine how success will be measured. There is often a misconception that communications and public relations efforts can’t be evaluated. There are however quite a few elements that can be measured. For example, depending on your objectives potential evaluation elements might include an increase in traffic to your website; an increase in donors of a particular age; engagement from e-newsletters; or key messages being included in media placements.
Brainstorm tactics. Here is where you determine what type of communication will best convey your message to your target audience(s). This may include press release distribution, blog posts, media pitching, video production, or a social media or paid digital campaigns, just to name a few. A strategic communications plan will always include specific ways that you can reach your target audiences over time.
Develop a tactical planning calendar. This is a vital piece of a communication plan as it enables you to see how the tactics work together throughout the year. It will also help you stay on track with all tactics throughout the plan. For example, start by adding when each tactic needs to happen, then work backward and include when the tactics needs to be created, approved, pitched, etc., in order for each to be accomplished in accordance with your plan.
To read more about strategic communications, check out our blog “Measuring ROI in Communications.”
Posted In Public Relations