You’ve just put the finishing touches on your masterpiece. It is a communications plan to be envied. Goals and objectives — carefully researched, distilled, and articulated.
Target audiences? You know them like the back of our hand. Your key messages? Artfully crafted to say the least. Message framework? Solidly in place. Channels — identified. Materials and activities — thoughtfully documented. The timing, frequency, and cadence — carefully considered. Responsibilities — all accounted for. Now, it is ready. It is perfect. It is DONE! It’s time to dive in and put this plan into action, right?? Not so fast! Let’s take a big breath, sit back, and consider what might be missing.
A truly impeccable communications plan is not only a blueprint to achieving your goals, it helps you get there smoothly, and confirms whether the goals were realized once the plan is fulfilled.
Imagine that the purpose of your plan is to launch a pilot program offering employees company-provided transportation to work. Besides tying nicely into the company’s sustainability initiative, your research shows company-provided transportation aids talent acquisition efforts, increases employee retention and fosters productivity. After what seems like an eternity, your plan is approved and your team moves into execution phase, albeit later than you wanted. Three weeks into it, you learn that an important virtual town hall in which your executive sponsor will announce a challenge that is sure to drive adoption may not happen due to technical issues with your internal social platform. What do you do?
Next, you discover that the click through rates for your email campaign are dismal. Do you continue with the current messaging strategy? On top of these other challenges, the company is facing a budgetary shortfall and is planning to cut programs that do not demonstrate a robust ROI. Can you prove the value of what you’ve done so far? If your plan doesn’t address these issues, you may be falling into one or more common pitfalls.
Streamline your approval process by limiting it to only the essential stakeholders. Be clear about what you are asking approval for. If you want people to review for overall content only, make sure you indicate that so you don’t end up with everyone trying to wordsmith it. Don’t let a complicated process delay your work.
Many communications plans fail to address what happens if your plan goes off the rails. Review your plan periodically and make modifications when needed. As you are developing your plan, consider potential obstacles and how you would handle them. You can’t foresee everything but having a plan B in place can help. Revisit, revise, and plan for risk.
You may know your open rates, page views, and attendance rates but do you know the impact of these activities? Did it spur the action you were hoping it would? Did it make people feel something or change their perception?
Don’t just measure output, measure outcomes and show how it drives business success.
Communication planning doesn’t need to be stressful or overly complicated. Incorporating these elements into your plan will save time, reduce worry, and deliver a more valuable outcome.