Plan to add value, don’t get burned by process
A carefully considered strategy is critical when it comes to implementing a communications plan of any size. From business need to evaluation, going back to basics when addressing an issue or opportunity can help you stay organized and focused at every stage.
However, when decision makers in your organization are looking to you, comms pro, to “make something happen” and there is little of those two high-ticket commodities our dream strategies are after (time and/or budget), what do you do?
There is value in being pragmatic and flexible in the creation and execution of your communications plan.
prag·mat·ic /praɡˈmadik/ adjective
Dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.
flex·i·ble /ˈfleksəb(ə)l/ adjective
- able to be easily modified to respond to altered circumstances or conditions.
- (of a person) ready and able to change so as to adapt to different circumstances.
Why am I here?
How we add value can be difficult to pinpoint on a personal level, particularly as a new comms professional.
What is the purpose of me being here?
This question can often be hard to answer for those just starting their comms career and will be more apparent with experience and time. There are a few areas you can consider in order to stay focused, flexible and continually adding value during the build and implementation of your comms plan:
Be smarter in many areas, but most importantly comms
More channel and platform options are available than ever before. Changes in mass communication have made these options available to communicators as well as everyone else. So expect everyone to be smarter about communication. This means that professional communicators must be smarter, as well. Communication plans also must allow for change. Stay focused on your strategic objectives, but allow tactics to change as opportunities arise, new ideas come up and the unexpected occurs.
Highlight the trade offs
Include things in your plan you won’t do. Is there a risk in sounding cheeky? Perhaps. However, it’s easy to be influenced by others (or yourself) to overuse the increasing number of social channels available. But have you identified why those channels are right for your goals? Knowing what you will not concentrate your attention on (but could) is essential to remain focused.
The sexy and attractive “new communication channel” fallacy
Do not be seduced by a shiny new channel without first understanding who it will reach. This is where the “we won’t” list (mentioned above) comes in handy.
It’s tempting to do everything, but focusing on your audience—more specifically their make-up, including their generation, and their motivations and fears as well as their desires—is best for a tactful and thoughtful execution.
A 10+ page communications plan is not necessary
You may arrive at your new comms role with a great toolkit in hand. A clean, structured and colourful communications plan template, ready to be populated with brilliant strategies and tactics. This plan will come in handy for large, long-term, organization-wide initiatives.
However, you may be required to come up with plans on the fly and your to-do list and competing priorities will soon take over your capacity to develop a 10+ page plan each time. Moreover, the issues and opportunities you will be asked to address may not always require a 10+ page level of detail. And, more importantly, the folks reading (and approving) your plans will have a 2-page max attention span, as they deal with their own daily cycle of tasks.
Have I said 10+ too much?
The point is: having executive summaries for robust communications plans or short communications plans templates in your toolkit will come in handy for the perennial curve balls that will be thrown your way.
Want to learn more about the nuances and gray areas of comms planning? Stay tuned for a comms planning essentials event, planned for January 2020.