Have you ever wondered why some businesses or organizations are always in the news while others can’t get any media coverage? The difference between the two is a well-executed strategic communications plan.
Developing an effective communications strategy requires more than just sending out a random press release or posting on social media when something newsworthy happens. Campaign guru Lynton Crosby, founder, and CEO of CT Group, says a successful communications strategy is built on a foundation of research, planning, and execution. Here are five critical components of an effective strategic communications plan:
What Is a Communications Strategy Plan?
A communications strategy plan is a document that outlines an organization’s overall communications approach. It considers the organization’s goals and objectives, audience, key messages, and desired outcomes. The plan also details how, when, and where the organization will communicate its messages.
Identify the audience
The first step in developing a communications strategy is to identify your target audience. Who do you want to reach with your messages? Once you’ve identified your target audience, it’s important to segment them into smaller groups so that you can develop targeted messages that resonate with each group. For example, suppose you’re trying to reach small business owners. In that case, you might segment them by industry, geographic location, or business size.
Determine goals and objectives
The next step is to determine your goals and objectives. What do you hope to achieve with your communications efforts? Your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Once you have established your goals, you can develop objectives that support those goals. Objectives are the tactics or actions that you will take to achieve your goal. For example, if one of your goals is to increase brand awareness among small business owners in your city. In that case, an objective might be to secure media placements in local publications that reach your target audience.
Develop key messages
Key messages are the core talking points that you want to communicate to your target audience. They should be clear, concise, and easy to remember. You should also ensure that they align with your organization’s mission and values as well as address the needs of your target audience. If one of your key messages is “Our software saves small businesses time and money,” make sure that it’s backed up with data or testimonials from satisfied customers.
How will we communicate to whom and when?
After you’ve developed your key messages, it’s time to decide how and when to communicate them to your target audience. There are many different channels that can be used for communication, including traditional forms like print or broadcast media and digital channels like social media or email marketing. The best way to reach your target audience will depend on factors like their age, geographic location, and interests. Consider the type of message you’re trying to communicate and the level of engagement you’re hoping to achieve. Once you’ve selected the channels that will work best for your purposes, it’s important to establish a schedule for communication so that you can effectively measure results over time.
An effective strategic communications plan is built on a foundation of research, planning, and execution. By developing each of these five components, you’ll be well on your way toward executing a successful communications campaign.