Strategic Communications 101

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 GollerLisa 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


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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.