Five Essential Steps to Strategic Communications Success

Your organization has bold goals and your CEO is expecting your communications team to help achieve them. Your audiences are more distracted and difficult to reach than ever. You need a strategic plan that cuts through the noise, maximizes your budget and delivers results.

To help you meet that challenge, we’re sharing a guide we now use with clients across various sectors. The steps that follow are being developed for Fortune 500 companies, trade associations, non-profits and more. And, they are winning rave reviews from communications officers and the CEOs they report to.

Here are five essential steps to strategic communications success in today’s challenging environment.

1. S.W.O.T Yourself For 2021

Few years delivered greater change than 2020. That makes it wise to reassess where your organization is and how your comms planning should align with new realities. You’ve likely done S.W.O.T. (strength, weakness, opportunity and threat) analysis sessions before. But now it’s time for a real pressure test in an augmented session that involves trusted insiders and outsiders who can help you see around corners, uncover new opportunities and avoid unnecessary risks. These sessions always deliver new and actionable insights.

2. Engage in Social Listening

Your next essential step involves truly understanding the environment you’re now operating in. This requires you to engage in the latest social listening techniques to identify the topics, themes and sentiments being debated across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media channels. Through a smart online analysis, you can understand what’s happening around your issues in real-time and get critical insights into the landscape in front of you. This step is essential for aligning your planning against the online conversations already happening.

3. Uncover New Audience Insights

Artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive modeling are essential tools for 2021 as they offer communicators a treasure trove for understanding targets and identifying trends. By arming yourself with audience information tied to personal values, psychological drivers, political perspectives, hobbies, daily routines and more, you can take planning to a whole new level and narrow the bullseye for your targeting. In this step, you put big data to work to meet your targets where they are and better determine which messengers are most likely to influence them.
Five Essential Steps to Strategic Communications Success

4. Be Human Centered and Precise

The next step in building your plan involves taking everything you now know and packaging it up in a way that connects precisely with your targets. To do this, you need to hold a creative strategy summit – we call them TORCH sessions – where the focus is on putting yourself in the shoes of your target audience, exploring their emotions and considering which themes or narratives they will connect with. This approach allows you to identify the human-centered truths that are critical for fueling your strategic plan and lighting your audiences up.

5. Nudge Your Audiences Into Action

The final step involves cracking the code on getting your key audiences to act. That’s where behavioral science and nudges come in. Decades of science-based communication theories are available to make your next plan a success and new theories are regularly being uncovered. By using the theories and nudges best suited to your situation, you can create compelling messaging and deploy them – via digital advertising, sponsored content, earned media, influencer engagement and more – to effectively engage your targets.
Yes, the environment you operate in has changed and it can be difficult to break through. But strategic communications planning doesn’t have to be overly complicated. If you put these essential steps to work, you will see results.

Team Members

Mike Marker_2
Michael Marker

Managing Director

Taylor Svehlak_2
Carey Tarbell

Executive Vice President, Chief Client Officer

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