Winning the Political Game: Communications Audit Checklist

lavarr policy insightsAs I’ve said many times, most political failures are failures of communications, and most political successes are triumphs of communications.

Good communications will never make up for a bad candidate, a bad incumbent, a bad product, concept or idea. But many good leaders and concepts have failed from lack of great communications.

The success of almost any elected official, opinion leader, government agency, interest group, business, and non-profit is directly tied to effective communications.

Here is a quick checklist to assess communications effectiveness.

  1. Can you immediately identify and articulate your mission, vision, goals and objectives? If you can’t do so succinctly and without stumbling and stammering, you lack the foundation for effective communications.
  2. What are the audiences you need to reach to achieve your objectives? Internal and external audiences? Usually multiple audiences must be reached, so can you prioritize them?
  3. What are the key messages you must deliver to reach your objectives? Just a few. If your message was a newspaper headline what would it say?
  4. What are your current delivery channels or mechanisms to get your messages to the right audiences? (Social media, earned media, paid media, newsletters, press releases, press conferences, email blasts, etc.) How can you reach your audiences? How effective are your delivery channels?
  5. What are the best symbols to use in communicating your message? Personalization? Simplification?
  6. Do you have instant response (defensive) and quick strike (offensive) capabilities?
  7. Do you have the logistics and infrastructure in place to be effective (lists of constituents, elected officials, media contacts, opinion leaders, etc., and communications capabilities to quickly reach them)?
  8. How good are your relationships? Do you know the right reporters? Do you make regular pilgrimages to editorial boards?
  9. How good are your basic materials about your organization? Can you quickly pull out and mail a brochure, FAQ, history, leadership, purpose, etc.? does your website need updating?
  10. Do you have capability to quickly write a good op-ed piece and get it published?
  11. Can you quickly mobilize your core constituency, supportive interest groups, etc., to attend a rally or write letters to the editor?
  12. Do you have a regular newsletter?
  13. Is someone in your organization clearly responsible for taking the lead in communications?
  14. Give yourself a grade on your current communications capabilities and program—A, B, C, D, F – and make plans to improve.