Communications include a mix of any content that sends a message from your business to your audience. These messages can be intentional or unintentional and encountered in a variety of mediums. By creating a communications strategy, you can make the outward message that your audience encounters deliberate and targeted to meet your goals. Simply put, a communications strategy can take your brand from where you are to where you want to be in the future.
The first place to start is to do a full evaluation of what you’re currently doing to share your brand message with your audience, either intentionally or unintentionally.
For example, are you sending out a newsletter; what content are you sharing in that newsletter? Take inventory of previous years and look at the topics you have been sending out to your audience.
Here are some examples of questions you should be asking:
Make a comprehensive list, ask these questions, and more, of everything you’re doing that your audience views — social media, website, marketing, advertising, public relations, and blog content. If you don’t have a mix of communications methods, take note of what you would like to create to move your message forward.
Your communications objectives and goals must align with those of your business. Review your business’s overall vision, core values, and objectives, and then look at how communications can help support and deliver your goals. Defining your goals with your overall vision in mind will help ensure that your communications goals are not an afterthought, but are ingrained in the brand’s strategy.
For example, if a business goal is to build strong relationships with key local funders, a communications objective could be to provide a regular flow of information to key stakeholders through a mix of newsletters, presentations, and thought-leadership content.
Define your audience; this will help you determine what kind of content you should be sharing and how you should be sharing. The first place to start is by looking at your current customer base – how do they currently engage with you, what group of people bring you the most business or engagement. Then, define the audience that you want to have, who are the people that you want to be receiving your message? What are the demographics and psychographics of your target audience? Once you define your audience, you can start to target your communications to meet your audience where they are to help foster engagement.
The foundation of your messaging should start with your unique brand story. It is the most authentic way to share your message with your audience. Start by thinking about the problem your brand is solving – why do you exist?
Build a messaging platform of key messages to share with your targeted audiences. Tailor your message to your respective audiences. Most businesses will have more than one target audience and should have more than one set of key messages. They should all tell the same brand story, but they might need to be tweaked to appeal to the heart of each audience.
You now have defined target audiences and messages, but how do you get your messages to them? For each target audience, you should have a defined communications mix to deliver your message. This mix can include newsletters, press releases, social media, workshops, websites, marketing, events, etc. Every business should have a healthy communications mix, so the message is integrated across a multi-channel campaign.
Your strategy should include what success looks like and how you will know when you achieve your objectives. Include tools you will use to evaluate each communication method – this can range from newsletter clicks to hits on your website or social media engagements. Include goals and milestones in your evaluation section so you can measure progress towards your overall goals.
Building a communications strategy should be exciting! Remember, you are reviewing and evaluating everything your audience interacts with and developing a more intentional method to engage with the people who want to know about your business. The opportunities for where you can go from here are endless.
You now know the basics of how to start building a communications strategy – have fun creating! Stay tuned for tips on how to build a communications plan that can help you practically implement your newly developed strategy!
Mindful, intentional and straight forward public relations for doers and risk-takers ready to ambitiously elevate their presence, tell a compelling story, and feel confident that their brand attracts their ideal clients.