A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for hiking boots or communications plans.
With apologies to Nancy Sinatra, some boots are not made for walking. Just ask my hiking buddy/husband who has watched me limp along many a trail. It took time to find the ideal boot that could protect my ankles and help me advance on rough terrains. Likewise, communications that work for one brand may not be the perfect fit for another.
Here are my three tips for creating an effective communications plan for your organization:
Ask for Directions
Whenever we decide to hike, we turn to the experts. That means reading trail books, reviewing maps and seeking recommendations from park rangers. In the same vein, a communications professional can help guide you in creating the framework for your communications plan. You’ll be asked to answer questions, including:
- What is your objective or desired outcome?
- Where are you now, where do you hope to be and why?
- Who do you need to reach, how will you reach them and when, what will you tell them and how do you want them to feel or think differently?
- How do you know if you’re successful?
Test the Waters
Without fail, every hike we take seems to involve loose stepping stones or wobbly bridges. I evaluate my surroundings and look for the best option for crossing the creek. With that in mind, it’s crucial for your communications plan to include a situational analysis or review of the competitive landscape. What are your key challenges and why? What kind of reaction will you get from your key audiences? What could stand in the way of your success?
Modify the Route
Sometimes, the best-laid plans require taking a different route entirely. Perhaps, the trail is flooded and you need to backtrack. Or, the trail map is outdated. In any case, it’s important to be flexible. Likewise, a communications plan is a living document. Remember, it’s a roadmap that you can modify as your goals, audiences or other circumstances change.
Please let me know if you’d like any advice about your next trail, hiking boot or communications plan.