As the year comes to an end, communications professionals are faced with the task of preparing for the new year while also wrapping up communications activities for the current year. It is important to have a strategy for your company’s communications to ensure it is targeted, effective and achieves the goals of the organization.
What is a Communication Strategy?
A communication strategy is a plan for how you intend to communicate with your audience. It defines the why behind the direction of your communication activities. Key components in a communication strategy include the message that you want to disseminate, your target audience and the communication channels you want to use.
It is important to understand that a communication plan differs from a communication strategy as the plan is the “how” of your communication strategy. A communication strategy gives you focus and should align with the company’s overall organizational goals and objectives. It contains the what and why of your communication efforts.
Planning Your Communications Strategy
In planning your communication strategy for the new year, there are certain steps to follow to ensure you create a winning communication strategy for the new year.
- Identify your current position
In order to plan an effective communication strategy, you need to review what was done the previous year. You need to understand what worked and didn’t work so you can know where to make improvements. You have to critically evaluate your marketing communications for the year, the success rate, the impact rate and if there are any metrics you can leverage in the new year.
- Set your communication goals
Before you start preparing your communication strategy for the new year, you have to set your goals and objectives. You need to have a very clear picture of what success would look like so you’ll know when you’ve gotten there. You should also take into account your organization’s goals and ensure your communication objectives align with them. If this means being in important review and planning meetings so you can be up to date with what your organization is focusing on in the new year. You should set SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
- Identify your target audience
You might have done this in the previous or current year, but you must understand that your target audience can evolve, expand or in rare cases change completely. Understanding your target audience would help you know how to segment them and craft messages that would appeal to them.
- Establish your key message
You should identify the key messages you want to communicate to your target audience on a regular basis. Every other form of communication aligns with your key message. This message should resonate with the organization’s objectives and must also be relevant to your target audience. Your key message can also be reviewed quarterly or bi-annually for any necessary changes.
- Identify your communication channels
You have to figure out what communication channels you are looking to utilize in the new year. This also means reviewing the existing channels you have been using and the results so far. You could also consider new communication channels to leverage in the coming year. Overall, your communication channels must be in line with your target audience’s preferences.
- Identify key metrics
You need to have a benchmark for measuring the progress you make so you can track it. There are different metrics for tracking progress on different communication channels such as website traffic, likes, reach and so on. You can read more on metrics for tracking your communication goals here.
In planning your communications strategy, you must understand that not everything is cast in stone. Be willing to review the strategy and evaluate the progress rate from time to time. This also means taking note of current trends relevant to your organizing and tweaking your communication plan to leverage those trends. You can find out more about planning your communication strategy for the new year here.
You can also take this course to improve your communication strategy creation skills.