Margaret McGann

Building the strategic communications plan — recap

In communications and marketing, communications plan, evaluation, media relations, monitoring, planning, research, writing on May 24, 2010 at 8:54 am

This week I want to recap what a strategic communications plan is and how to build it. Essentially the plan is a blueprint or map of how to get from where your organization is now to where it wants to be.  

There are seven crucial elements to a strategic communications plan. We start with the context section to build a solid foundation. Here you look at what has happened, what is happening now, identify developing trends and if you are faced with a challenge or an opportunity.  Don’t do a long history here just do your research and link the past to the present so you can determine where you want to go.   

Next you want to state your desired results which will also further your organization’s goals and set audience expectations in the objectives section. You’ll want to take the time to seriously think through the results you want and if you can realistically reach and evaluate them because all objectives must be measurable.  

Third you need to narrowly define your target audiences. The more thoroughly you understand your audiences, the easier it is to find and address them effectively. A clear understanding of your target audiences and the best communications techniques to reach them is a key ingredient in deciding what the best strategic approach is. 

Now you are at the most important element of your plan — your recommended strategic approach. It needs to be a sound, strategically based and measurable outline describing how and when you’ll achieve your objectives. The strategic approach could be described as “the elevator pitch” for your strategy, broad strokes with an overview of specific activities which will be fleshed out in your tactics section. 

Key messages are basically how you communicate your objectives to your target audiences. Always think in threes — the three Cs — clear, concise and consistent; the three Rs — relevant, resonant and responsive; and the number three — three short and memorable messages

Tactics are the actions and products you produce to support your strategic approach. These are a mix of integrated marketing communications tools in addition to your targeted media relations.  

And last but far from least is your evaluation to determine if you are successfully reaching your objectives.   Monitoring and evaluating along the way helps you stay on course and ready to respond to changing situations. You want to know if you got the right message to the right audience at the right time; realized your objectives; and met your timelines. 

There are other sections you can add to a strategic communications plan but these seven are the most important. 

What other sections do you like to add to your plans?

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