The start of any new year frequently gives us an incentive to step back and reexamine our organization’s goals, processes, and internal alignment. It’s also a great time to dig out, dust off, and reassess your communications plan. You may have a plan. You may even think it works for you. But with the inevitable organizational change that comes with the passage of time, annual reviews and tune-ups are essential. Here’s what you’ll need to check.
Ask yourself what’s changed in the last year inside your enterprise. As a result of that change, what do you want your audience to do now? What do you want to happen after you deliver your messages? Sure, you’d like to make more money or increase donations and support, but what steps will need to be taken to achieve those goals? Make sure your communications plan fits what you want to accomplish today.
Have your key audiences remained exactly the same since your communications plan was first drafted? (We’ll assume here that you have a communications plan). Even if the demographics for your audiences remain unchanged, the ways in which they can hear and engage with you probably haven’t. And remember that the “general public” is not a specific audience. To hone in who your audience really is, imagine a composite individual (or several of them) and examine how their daily activities can connect with your organization. It’s a worthwhile exercise, especially when each member of your team presents a unique composite audience member. You might be surprised at their perspectives.
Your organization has changed, no matter how minor or major those changes might seem from an external perspective. So your messages must fit not just today’s performance and goals, but your current brand and personality. Consider undertaking a message development [hyperlink] update so your audiences can hear, understand, and engage with you.
Just as technology needs constant updates, so, too, do the vehicles with which you deliver your messages need to match where your enterprise is today. By some estimates, nearly 85 percent of Americans are online. That’s a staggering shift from just a few years ago. But is your audience visiting Facebook or just playing Candy Crush? Make sure the ways in which you’re reaching out are keeping pace with the people you most want to reach.
How will you know if you’re hitting the mark with your messages and vehicles? You’ll need tactics that help you wisely deploy resources while reaching and connecting with the broadest possible impact. Technology can help here; so can demographic studies that focus on marketing and reach. Ask for help if needed. Then make sure you check back in frequently enough to keep your messages and means of delivering them on target.
The final and possibly most important touch-point for your plan is an evaluation of how many people are actually using your communications plan. Does your team believe in what they’re being asked to communicate? Can they effectively and consistently articulate what you do and how your organization is powerful and unique? Internal communications and training are as essential as the external when it comes to forging a plan that truly works for who you are today.