Savvy government and business leaders understand the power of communications. Effective communications can unify an organization, effect change, and build business. Developing a sound strategy and putting proven business processes and management into place that promote efficiencies are critical to success as well as netting a solid return on your budget and time investment.
Regardless of whether you are launching a new communications strategy or taking a fresh look at an existing outreach program, you may want to consider incorporating the following basic steps.
1. Start with your organization’s strategic plan. Effective communications work for the organization with communications objectives, strategies, and tactics supporting the organization’s objectives, goals, and strategies. For example, your communications goals should track with and support your organization’s goals, all working together purposefully to achieve a desired and agreed upon end state. Solid metrics incorporated into your strategic plan can serve as a guide for communications metrics as well, which are essential in terms of tracking the effectiveness of campaigns and determining return on investment (ROI) for your efforts and budget resources.
2. Rally the troops. Internal support underpins all effective brands and is crucial in developing both internal and external communications. Involving important individuals from diverse areas of your organization can provide invaluable insight and become strong supporters poised to carry your message. Additionally, while your internal team may know your organization better than anyone else, trusted external partners can provide skills and an outside perspective on your organization and external audiences. Utilizing an external professional to conduct facilitated staff meetings for strategic planning and messaging can be valuable to tease out important information and to build consensus internally.
3. Work on (and strengthen) your core. Integral to any communications strategy are core messages that speak to target audiences. Ultimately, you want to get “your story straight” and your team onboard with your messages before you rollout your brand, or initiate outreach. Leadership messages, such as the company vision, mission, and value statement often serve as a good starting point for messaging. You may want to consider communications training to get everyone aligned with new messages. The training can also incorporate message development. By enlisting the group’s help, it will instill a sense of ownership among key staff and have a positive impact on your entire communications program.
4. Be strategic about your tactics. Identification and development of communications tools, such as electronic media, press kits, videos, brochures, and outreach activities should flow logically from and in support of your communications strategies. Methodical planning will enable you to establish metrics for your overall campaign including individual tactical efforts. Core messages and strategic planning that has been done earlier should serve as the basis and assessment of your brand and all tactical materials. Seasoned creative, communications, and public relations professionals know how to develop and execute tactical materials based on communications strategies and messages. Review of these materials should be based on a set of criteria that ensures content and graphics are on strategy and speak to your audiences.
5. Put management processes into place. Communications need to be diligently managed, employing proven business practices with ongoing reviews and evaluation of metrics, opportunities, and new challenges. The best time to establish guidelines and any delegation of management or development responsibilities is early in the process, during the planning stage. Selecting appropriate individuals to shepherd specific projects, review copy or creative, can make or break your program.
Managing and sharing communications internally is another important consideration. How will internal communications be managed? What is the process for sharing information internally to ensure that everyone continues to get onboard and communicate using consistent messaging?