Australian Government,  Blog post,  Communication Strategy

Have we lost the art of developing a communications strategy?

In government communications we are often overwhelmed with day-to-day priorities. We get sucked into the urgent issues, responding to those that yell the loudest. We move from task-to-task achieving good outcomes but not always with a long-term goal in mind. In our hectic 9-5 day (or 7-7 day depending on where you work) have we stopped focusing on one of the basics of what we do? Have we lost the art of strategy?

Professional communicators know that the basis of all good communications is a strategy. Be it short or long, it is a piece of work that examines the environment, identifies the audiences, outlines the messages, selects the most appropriate channels. It is a key document that identifies why we are doing this work (the objectives) and how we can prove that we achieved an outcome (evaluation).

But as a client service delivery area often we don’t have time to do what we know is needed, instead focused on delivering what our clients think they need. More often than not it is the strategy that seems to be getting left behind. While we are busy responding to our client’s needs, we aren’t able to focus on our own.

Strategy is often a misunderstood requirement from the client-side. They just want us to review this web content, write that media release or make this document “pretty”. We are asked to deal with the here and now, not often are we asked to focus on the long-term. But if we don’t prioritise the strategy too, how can we demonstrate our value-add to the organisation and know that this one piece of work is making a contribution to a broader goal.

When we get asked to write a media release, if we don’t take the time to step back and consider the strategy needed to support it there is a chance that you will miss some opportunities, that you will not target the messages correctly and there is a high likelihood a media release isn’t the right channel after all. How will you know if you don’t know what you are setting out to achieve? When you write a new page of content for the website how do you know whether it is consistent with other communications and that the message is getting across to your audience?

I am not saying that its easy, or even possible every time. It is hard to find the time to do it and doing it well can take time. But it is vital if we are going to prove our worth in the public service. As professional communicators we need to continue to perfect our art. Creating a well-research, well-thought-out strategy allows you to demonstrate you are considering the whole picture and what you are delivering aligns with the needs of the organisation. In short, it demonstrates the strategic value of communications to an organisation.

Not sure where to start? Simply don’t have time? With a wealth of experience in internal and external communications, planning and strategy are a core strength of Elm Communications. Contact us today and I can come help you get a new strategy blooming…

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