4 tips to help prepare a communication strategy that works

4 tips to help prepare a communication strategy that works

Communication strategies have been around forever – and by and large the concept and methodologies to produce one have not changed.

They require you to set in place your objectives, key messages, do a SWOT analysis, identify your audiences, set some action items and press go.

While this basic methodology behind creating a communications strategy has not changed, the new age of technology has given communicators the opportunity to add a new level of depth to their strategies.

While offline events such as public relations, advertising and face-to-face communication remain important, online communication including websites (or centres of gravity as we call them at contentgroup) and social channels are integral.

Another thing that has not changed is what you want your communication strategy to do. You want it to work.

There is no point writing a communication strategy if it is going to sit in your bottom drawer.

Here are four tips to ensure you can achieve the most out of your strategy.

1. Research

Research is pivotal to your overall strategy. Don’t expect to be able to just pick up a pen (or start typing away on your keyboard) if you haven’t taken a deep dive into the past.

It’s important to do an analysis of your department or organisations’ previous communication work and evaluate what has worked, what hasn’t worked and what you would have done differently.

Ask around your department if there has been any market research conducted that could inform your new communication strategy.

Most importantly though – ask questions and listen. The key to writing any effective communication strategy is gathering as much information as possible through questions and material and using the insights gained to develop your strategy.

2. Make your communication objectives SMART

All good communication strategies need objectives. Simple, right? Well not quite.

It’s easy to write down communication objectives that don’t mean anything … the problem is, how do you know if they have been achieved.

When creating your communication strategy your objectives must be SMART.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timebound

In practice, a communication objective should not be “Get more subscribers to the monthly e-newsletter”.

It should be “Increase e-newsletter subscribers by 100% to 7,000 people by June 30.”

3. Know your audience

There is no point in communicating if you don’t know who you are communicating with.

Furthermore, there is no point just writing down your audience as Australian public if you want to communicate a government policy.

You must take time to get to know your audience. Give each of your audiences a persona. A name, a job, a demographic and start working out what form of content and which channels that audience is most likely to use.

Once you know your audience personas you can make some more informed judgements around what content (audio, text, stills, graphics, video) you can communicate to them with.

For example, if your audience is retirees they would be less likely to consume video content on their mobile devices, therefore creating video content would not be as desirable.

4. Create a robust measurement and evaluation framework

Who in marketing and communications hasn’t been invited into the Director’s office and asked to explain if a communication campaign or project has been effective?

Pre the age of technology this was a far harder question to answer than it is now. You could argue that the event you organise was on page 3 of the newspaper – but how many people actually read that article?

Now, by being your own publisher and using your centre of gravity you can measure website hits, clicks, views on videos, bounce rates and much more.

You can get a reliable answer to include as part of your reporting.

Make sure you set in place a reporting template that not only measures your website performance, but also the social channels and other forms of communication you have set in place as part of your communication strategy. Use the framework to report monthly.

David is the Head of Consulting at contentgroup and possesses a love of writing. While he could write and talk about sport all day, his focus is now on helping public-sector clients tell their stories.

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