With the back-to-school season underway, let’s review how to achieve your business goals by applying reading, writing and ‘rithmatic to develop a strategic communications plan.
An effective communications plan acts as your company’s results-oriented roadmap, helping you get where you want to go — using minimal time, money and effort.
Use the following steps to create a winning strategic communications plan:
1. Identify your strategic goal:
What is your long-term desired end result? The communications vision should be aligned with yet distinct from your company’s overall mission.
2. Research your audience:
Who is your target market? What are their demographics and/or behavioural commonalities? What are their needs and how does your company fulfill them? To be strategic, build your plan on facts.
3. Research your situation:
What are the industry drivers and key success factors? What are your competitors doing?
4. Research your organization:
What competitive advantage does your company offer? How will you mitigate risk?
5. Set supporting objectives:
State outcomes that are both measurable and meaningful, helping advance your business.
6. Identify key messages:
Some organizations skip right to this step; please don’t! Make your messaging appropriate to both the audience and the communication vehicles. Link your communication objectives to the audience’s needs. Include a solution or course of action.
7. Identify strategies:
Establish goals, high-level concepts about what to accomplish, and objectives that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-sensitive).
8. Identify tactics:
Which communication vehicles will you use to achieve your goals and objectives? How will you reach your audiences?
9. Develop and implement a plan:
Which resources will you use? Who will be responsible for what? What are your timelines? What is your budget?
10. Measure results:
Analyze whether your strategic communication efforts accomplished your goals and objectives. Evaluate results and make corrections along the way rather than just at the end.
Your strategic communications plan is a living document, so be a lifelong learner and revisit it at least quarterly. Keeping your communications plan strategic and up-to-date will help you build credibility and confidence – the corporate equivalent to earning a spot on the dean’s honour list.
Does your company use a strategic communications plan to align your message with your business goals?
Lisa Goller helps businesses tell their story. As a Toronto-based Strategic Freelance Writer & Editor, she helps executives and entrepreneurs stand out, look good and save time through irresistible content marketing. Learn more at lisagoller.com
Coffman, Julia. Strategic Communication Audits.
Dixson, Elaine. Communication Planning Dos and Don’ts. Communication World. 2013.
Durutta, Nick. Strategic Communication Planning: Why the basics matter more than ever. Communication World. August 2, 2014.
Potter, Les. Strategic Communication Planning & Management: Fundamentals for Success. IABC World Conference. June 6, 2010.