I’ve learned over the years that a little planning really does go a long way. If your days are like mine, work usually begins even before you get to the office and doesn’t let up until long after you’ve left for the day … if ever.
But here’s the thing. There’s a fast and easy way to take control of your organization’s destiny, no matter how busy you are – simply do some quick communications planning. If you know where you’re headed, getting there is much easier.
A communications plan should go far beyond scheduling blogs or social media posts, email campaigns, or email marketing efforts. It’s a deep dive into what makes your organization tick and how it connects with employees, stakeholders, and customers.
What is Communications Planning?
Good communication plans ultimately lead to clearer and better messaging that effectively reaches your target audience. It should be a detailed outline that specifically addresses what, when, and how you want to deliver that message.
Whether you’re trying to create connections for your marketing team with current and potential clients or want to keep stakeholders up to date on an ongoing project, the communications plan should address how you craft and how you share that information.
It’s also wise to include some “worst-case scenario” considerations in your communications plan. Unexpected events or crises that impact your organization can be chaotic so having a blueprint to use when reacting and responding to staff or stakeholders is a great asset.
Create a Consistent, Concrete Message
FCP often works with organizations where the board and staff members can’t clearly explain to us what they do or why they do it. It begs the question that, if they can’t tell us, what are they saying to potential donors or the people they serve?
A solid communications plan includes open conversations with staff and stakeholders to help create a plan that will have buy-in and lay the groundwork for a clearly defined message that accurately answers the “what” and “why” questions.
Who Are You Communicating With?
If you ask yourself, “Who am I trying to reach?” and come up with a vague answer such as “local businesses” we’ve got some work to do.
A good communications plan helps organizations zoom in on their target audience and identify why they are reaching out to them. Keep in mind you can have more than one audience, but each of them needs a different tactic to engage them. The planning process provides a focus on reaching the right audience so your communication is on-point and effective.
Remember that it takes two parties to communicate. If you’re spamming messages in all sorts of formats out into the world, but nobody is listening it’s a waste of time and resources. Communication plans take the guesswork and throw things at the wall to see what sticks approach out of the equation.
Get The Plan Started with Some Simple Questions
The hardest part of any new process is getting started. To get things rolling with a communications plan, I recommend that our clients ask themselves some questions about their organization to give us a framework for how the plan will be constructed.
Give these questions a try and see if your current communications plan has answers:
- What are you already doing?
- What’s your organization’s path to reach your vision or goal?
- What’s your solution or call to action?
- What relevant stories can you use?
- Who are you trying to reach (think small, in specifics, not large audiences)?
- What tools (e.g., social media, print, email, etc.) can you use to reach the audience(s)? Are there other new tools you could add?
- Bonus question: What exactly do people need to hear to get them to do what you want them to do?
Strategic Communications Planning Guidance from the Experts
One of the easiest and fastest ways to get control of your organization’s destiny is to work with an experienced communications planning agency. At FCP, our experienced staff will help you fearlessly create a plan and make it an integral part of your success. To learn more about how we can collaborate on your communications strategy, contact us today!