Do You Have a Strategic Communications Plan?

You are making a mistake if your digital marketing and communications efforts are not part of a bigger plan with many integrated, stratified, prioritized moving parts.

Whether you are a non-profit or a for-profit professional services organization, like a medical practice or a company, you should have a strategic communications plan. A communications strategy is designed to help you and your organization communicate effectively and meet core organizational objectives. Instead of being reactive, having a plan is proactive and forces you to decide what you will say to whom and when and how you will say it.

In addition, having a plan puts all the different outreach and messaging tools into one place, creates priorities, and helps to identify budget allocations and define benchmarks, timelines, and metrics.

Here is a template for a strategic communications plan that follows this seven-step outline:

Step One: Conduct a situation analysis: a) Examine the external environment; b) Examine the internal environment; c) Define your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats; and d) Analyze the SWOT.

Step Two: Connect with your audience: a) Audience identification; b) Audience profile; c) Select priority audiences.

Step Three: Communications objectives.

Step Four: Tailor messages: a) Persuasive messages; b) Put a human face on the work.

Step Five: Develop appropriate strategies and vehicles: a) Evaluate strategic options; b) Evaluate existing vehicles and strategies; c) Develop new strategies and vehicles.

Step Six: Evaluate your efforts: a) Strategy for evaluation; b) Develop outcome measures.

Step Seven: Create a timeline and budget: a) Develop a calendar; b) Communications budget sheet.

All this, of course, takes thought, planning, and execution. Most you who are reading this won't do it. However, if you want the five-minute university version, check this.

You are making a mistake if your digital marketing and communications efforts are not part of a bigger plan with many integrated, stratified, prioritized moving parts. Like the saying goes, half of advertising works, you just don't know which half. Whichever half it is, be sure you've got it covered.