By Cheril Lee
We’ve all heard the old saying, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” The answer to this question has been debated for a long time and there is no real definitive answer.
The same could be said of communication plans, if you put a comms plan together and you don’t plan properly, will anyone hear it or take the action you want them to?
Getting your plan together
There are six questions to consider when creating your plan:
- Who is your intended audience?
- What strategy will you use to engage them?
- What are the key messages that will resonate with your audience?
- How will you communicate these messages to them? In other words, what are the best channels to use to get your message across to that particular audience?
- When will you send these messages out?
- And who will do it?
SMART stands for:
Five purposes for your communication plan:
- Raising awareness of a service, event, organization, etc
- Building interest
- Informing your target audience
- Creating demand
- Brand reinforcement
How do you know if you’re doing it right?
The Institute for PR explains there are three key areas:
Outputs – These could come from press releases, events, web sites, etc.
Outcomes – This is more aligned with behaviors, attitudes and awareness.
Results – Think of this as the action that takes place as a result of the outputs influencing outcomes. This could mean your audience donates time or money or attends an event.
Measuring your results
The success of any media campaign may be measured in a variety of ways including volume of media coverage, social media reach and engagement, content analysis, website backlinks and more.
The measures you opt to track and analyze are up to you and likely will be influenced by the size of your staff and budget. The most important thing is to ensure you identify and task particular team members with this effort. The impact of PR efforts is not easily measured quantitatively, so it’s important to look at the qualitative information available.
Demonstrating the impact of your efforts means studying your media coverage consistently over a period of time.
The KEY thing to remember if your plan isn’t working
Be flexible! The most important thing to remember is your communication plan doesn’t have to be written in indelible ink. Your plan can be adapted and changed depending on the needs of your client.
The right planning approach can drive a successful public relations strategy, connect with your audience on a deeper level, and inspire the public to act.