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by Maria Lahiffe
Are you churning out press releases every week which don’t get picked up? How much time do you spend on your social media channels and how much engagement do you get? Can your employees and front-line volunteers send a consistent message about what your organization stands for and what it does? If you’re not sure, then you need a communications plan.
I know, I know, the last thing you want to spend time on is yet another plan. If it was easy, then everyone would be doing their communication like pros. The fact is, though, that communications planning is essential to success, and the great thing is that the process can help you clarify other aspects of your organizational mandate. Here are some reasons to make the effort.
You know what you want your organization to accomplish, but how do you get there? Your communications plan is your roadmap to getting where you want to go. Is your goal to serve more stakeholders or to serve your existing stakeholders better? Both are great goals, but the tactics to achieve them are different.
Different people have different interests, respond to different messages, look in different places for their information. Who do you want to speak to? If your answer is “the general public” then sit back down and narrow that down. Start with what you want people to DO. For example, maybe you want people to donate money. Who would be good donors to your cause? What do they care about? Where do they look for information on ways to donate?
How often have you heard that a team is “siloed”? Everyone is working hard in their own little bubble, with no understanding of how their hard work fits into a bigger picture. The process of creating a communications plan, getting input from everyone who contributes to your organization’s success, helps to generate support for the plan, and also helps you to define your message in a way that incorporates all of the great things your team is accomplishing.
Every communications goal should be measurable. Never, never say that “awareness” is your goal. What do you want people to DO? Sign up for a workshop? Donate? Give their contact information? Write to their MP? Decide what is most valuable to your organization (you can pick more than one thing, but you may need different communications for each), then figure out how you’ll measure it. That way you’ll know if your communications efforts are successful, and, if not, you can change tactics.
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