Margaret McGann

Building the strategic communications plan — context

In communications and marketing, communications plan, planning, public relations, strategy on April 5, 2010 at 7:41 am

Behind every successful communications project is a rock-solid, detailed communications plan. The plan is the road map or blueprint of how you will reach your objectives.

And just like a blueprint each section of a strategic communications plan needs specific information and actions to make sure it will have effective results.

Your communications plan should unfold logically starting with why you are doing it. Is it to introduce a new initiative, a long-range public awareness campaign, a major change management project or is it to solve a problem?

A crucial part of a successful plan is a solid foundation on which to build the strategy. This is the context component of your plan.  The context should link the past (background), present (current communications situation), developing trends  (future) and whether it is a challenge or an opportunity. It’s not intended as a background section so don’t include an exhaustive history of the topic.

You should answer these questions in the context:

  • What is this about?
  • What has happened?
  • What is the current situation?
  • What does your opinion research indicate are increasing trends?
  • What are the past and present challenges and opportunities?

The context section can seem deceptively simple but it is the base that your strategy rests on so make sure you devote the time to research and plan it with care.

You want to accurately describe the context so that nothing is ambiguous or misleading. Otherwise, you could end up building a house when what you really need is a doghouse.

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