I have been working with a lot of smaller organisations recently. A consistent them is that they don’t have the capacity or capability in-house to write a communications strategy. By the time they talk to me, they are a bit panicked. Their communications on a specific topic or for the whole organisation isn’t going that well. They are doing the best they can, but they know it’s not enough.
Working without a communications strategy is like life in 2020, you never know what is coming next. I can’t stress this enough to my clients if you don’t have a plan you won’t know how to handle things that come your way. Not doing any planning doesn’t save you time, it makes you less effective.
It’s not about spending months working on a long document. It is also not about following the plan rigidly if this year has taught us anything we need to be flexible. It’s about having a structure to follow when under pressure. It’s a guidepost to keep you grounded—a clear direction when you aren’t sure which path to take.
A strategy makes you stop and think about what you are trying to do and why. How you’re going to get there and what the path looks like.
One client wanted everyone to know about a new campaign they were running. Until they contacted me they had only focused on the media. When we developed a plan, we found there were stakeholders and board members that could help to amplify the message, reach broader audiences and showing a new level of expertise. We also started sharing their media activities on social media. We took the time to plan what we would ‘react’ to in the media so we could respond more rapidly. The plan provided a sense of direction and purpose.
Clearly setting out your goals and objectives helps when things get hectic to remember where you should focus. It’s easy to get distracted by the latest story in the media, by social media comments. Before you know it your communications has drifted into a territory, you didn’t want to get into. You feel overwhelmed trying to fight fires on all fronts.
Everyone feels like they don’t have time to write a communications strategy, but I would challenge you that you don’t have time not to.
Another client hasn’t had a communication strategy in the last five years. There was no time – they were a small team just trying to keep their head above water. They just kept their website and social media going. They did what needed to be done. However, when I asked who they were trying to reach through their social media channels and how effective they had been. They didn’t have an answer because they didn’t know what they were setting out to achieve.
Without a communications strategy, there is a chance you will be inefficient, focus on the wrong things and not reach your audience anyway.
You can keep doing things—pushing out social media content, writing media releases, but if it’s not all connected and effective what’s the point? Your strategy doesn’t need to be war and peace. It only needs to be as long as you need it to be. But not doing it will set you up to fail!