In both business and politics, when we have something important to communicate, we sometimes brainstorm and toss out things like, “We should send out a press release” or, “Let’s do a social media campaign.”
Rather than shooting from the hip, it makes a lot more sense to follow a proven methodology to create an effective communications plan and strategy.
Follow these seven steps to create that plan:
First, determine what objectives you are trying to accomplish by undertaking the communications campaign. Write them down. They’re important.
Second, determine what audiences need to be reached to achieve those objectives. These can be internal and/or external audiences. Sometimes specific groups or individuals are key audiences. Sometimes the general public is an audience. What audiences must be reached?
Third, what research needs to be done to determine a baseline, where things stand today, how people or audiences feel about what you are trying to accomplish, what current opinions and attitudes are.
Fourth, what messages need to be delivered to the audiences to achieve the objectives?
Fifth, what resources in time, money and other support are available to devote to the effort?
Sixth, what are the timing considerations? When will a product be rolled out? Do you need to influence a legislative action? When should messaging hit to win an election?
Seventh, what channels or delivery mechanisms should be used to get the messages to the right audiences to achieve the objectives?
Delivery channels might include: Paid media (mass media), social media/Internet ads (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), television, radio, newspaper stories or ads, billboards, earned media, email newsletter, printed newsletter, web site, blog, podcast, video, direct mail to homes, speeches, neighborhood meetings, white papers, etc.
Following this methodology will result in better strategy and a more effective campaign than any undisciplined brainstorming session.