Every communications campaign should be designed to meet your organization’s strategic goals. Sounds like common sense, right? It is. Yet, far too often, communications objectives (and therefore, the ability to truly measure success) aren’t as defined as they could to be, leading an inefficient use of resources, missed opportunities and unmet strategic goals. Here are some of the basic, yet all-important, questions your organization should be clear on before starting your next communications campaign:
- What is our goal? This is about the strategic goals for your organization. “Reaching as many people as possible” is not a goal. “Selling 5 million widgets” is. So is “ensuring the passage/failure of Senate Bill 123.” Formalizing clear and measurable objectives will set your long and short-term priorities and allow you to use your resources in a more effective and efficient way. Establishing and completing these goals will also improve your organization’s self-appraisal by giving you a more accurate way of measuring success.
- Who do we want to talk to? This is about audience targeting. When people think of targeting, they usually associate it with paid media. But whether its paid, earned or social media in order to communicate effectively you need to identify and understand your audience. The answer to Question 1 above will help answer this question as well, which is a must because all forms of communication require human capital (and time is money), so audience targeting should apply to everything you do.
- What do we want them to know (or do)? Another way to ask this question is: “what do we want the headlines to be?” or “when a news anchor introduces our story, what is the first line we want them to say?” We live in a noisy world, so knowing exactly what you want people to hear is key. You may only have their attention for a few seconds before they move on to the next thing so make the most of it. Determining your key messaging will also shorten your talking points, require you to memorize less and prevent you from getting bogged down in jargon.
- How do we want to tell them? This is about planning and tactics. The “how” should be a synthesis your capabilities and resources in relation to your understanding of your target audience and messaging priorities. Doing so will help you identify when, where and how to best engage your targeted audience wherever they are throughout the day. Effective tactical execution is about timing and planning ahead. It requires creating a detailed timeline or planning calendar that enables your organization to always be proactive while maintaining the flexibility needed to incorporate “news of the day” and other unanticipated opportunities.
One more added bonus: being clear on your organization’s strategic and communications goals from the outset will not only make your work more effective, it can also help build the internal “buy-in” that is often difficult to achieve.