What is Strategic Communications?

Strategic communications refers to communications efforts that are lined up with a strategic plan, which should be a minimum of 12-months long. It helps a companies plan out their budget so that it lasts the whole year and enables them to develop communications strategies based on events and holidays that are relevant to both consumers and the company. In marketing, being strategic means the best message is being delivered to the intended audience.

Here are 4 steps to follow when developing a strategic communications plan.

1. Identify Your Target Audiences

Identifying your target audience is an important first step in the process of creating a strategic communications plan. Some of the target audience characteristics that your company needs to be looking at are age, location, and income level. This needs to be the first step as it will be what guides you in determining what messages and platforms to use in order to most effectively reach the target audience. For example, if you are targeting a more middle-aged, professional audience you will be more successful reaching them through LinkedIn versus Snapchat.

2. Set Your Objectives!

How much do you hope to increase your sales over the next year? Do you want to communicate with your audience in a different way and how do you hope this impacts engagement? These are all things to ask yourself when developing objectives. They should be specific and measurable and should not be solely focused on sales.

3. There are 4 Main Ways to get Media Publicity: Use them!

Wilde Words does a great job of describing the PESO model. That is, publicity is gained through Earned Media, Shared Media, Owned Media, and Paid Media.

Earned media is when a company produces products or events that get reviewed. This can be via blog post, in print or on TV. It is valued at 3x more than paid advertising, largely do it having a third-person perspective.

Shared media comes from partnerships with other businesses or charities. When a company is partnered with a charity, both the business and the charity promote each other.

Owned media is content that comes from the company itself, like employees personal stories and content that is created based on what that company has done.

Paid media is when a company pays for advertising. This includes ad buys on TV and in print but more recently has started to include ad buys on various social networking sites.

4. Putting the Plan on a Calendar!

Now that you’ve defined your target audience, decided how to best reach them and determined your objectives, it’s time to map out your strategic plan on a calendar. The best way to start is to get a 12-month calendar and mark off important holidays and events for both consumers and the company. You then want to establish how you are going to incorporate each one into your strategic plan. Simply put, the content that you communicate should relate to what is happening at the time. For example, during February somehow incorporate Valentines Day into your campaigns.

During this process you should continue to ask yourself, “is this the best way to reach the target audience.” By laying out a 12-month plan, you are helping ensure that your budget is laid out to last the full year. Having measurable objectives is what will allow you to discover whether or not your communications campaigns are successful. It also enables a company to forecast how many company hours it’s going to take to carry out the communications projects. It’s a great way to keep all of the team players on track and help ensure success.

If you found this post interesting, check out Six Strategies to Help a Business Earn Publicity.

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