6- Do you have a strategic communications plan?7- Do you consistently repeat your business’s key messages in everything that goes out into the public—website,business cards, letterhead, etc.? Is the message clear (if you are not getting the clients you want or the desiredoutcome, your message is perhaps not clear enough)?8 – Do you include a ‘call to action’ on direct mailings and on your website?9 – Do you use internal communications materials?10 – Have you ever employed the use of focus groups or surveys to better determine your customer’s needs?Part 2- Results:40 – 50: You have a clear idea of who your target audience is, the message you want to convey and the toolswith which to disseminate it. You realize that written communications are an integral part of your day to daybusiness operations and you use this to your advantage.30 – 40: You realize that communications are important, but you feel you haven’t quite established the rightmethods or tools to use even though you have developed and use some communications materials. You needhelp to have it pulled coherently together and fine tune your strategic plan.20 – 30: You realize communications are important, but you don’t have the time to fine tune your materials orcommunications plan so you keep it to a minimum. You need someone to take the stress of yet another task offyour shoulders!10 – 20: You have just realized that different communications tools could be helpful in steering your business inthe right direction, but you’re not sure where to start. You need someone to coach you in getting started anddetermine the who, what, when, where, and how.0 – 10: You are not realizing the potential that a strategic communications plan could have on your business.You are blindly reaching out for clients, hit and miss without a real plan, without any strategy. You have notestablished a key message, determined who your target audience is, nor have you decided on the best way toreach your audience. You need help and fast!
Part 3 – The top 5 reasons you should fine tune your communications planNumber 1 – Direction, direction, direction. A lot of time is lost when you are chasing the wrong audience, themessage is lost on the audience you’re targeting, or you are using the wrong methods to get your message outthere. Creating or fine-tuning your communications plan will help you strategically determine the directionyou should be headed, saving you time, stress, and money.Number 2 – Attract the clients you want. Without the appropriate communications, messages, and channelsyou could very well be setting yourself up for headaches and heartache. By attracting or positioning yourself tothe wrong clientele you are not advancing yourself in the domain of expertise in which you are successful andcould even be setting yourself up for trouble if it turns out they think you are delivering the wrong service orproduct. By focusing on the who, when, where and how you’ll draw the people you want to you.Number 3 – Save money. When you’ve discovered who you should be targeting and how best to make surethose clients get the messages and information you need them to, you won’t waste the money and resourcesexploring or using unprofitable venues. It’s as simple as that.Number 4 – Two-way communication leads to better relationships. With corporate and/or social responsibilityas buzzwords these days, your audiences and publics will show their appreciation of the information and trans-parency you provide by buying your product/investing in your company/employing your services/donating toyour cause. As you receive client input and feedback you’ll be better equipped to continually fine tune yourcommunications methods, to better serve your clientele, who will buy/invest/employ your services/donate…And the cycle continues.Number 5 – Establish yourself as an industry leader. By attracting the right clientele, building and improvingthose relationships, and saving money which you can wisely spend elsewhere, you will quickly position your-self as a trusted source for a product, service or philanthropy.
Part 4 – Keys to success It seems too good to be true: that something as simple as initiating a basic communications plan canhelp your business or organization grow. But honest, open and timely communications can create just the‘face’ you want on your business. And if it doesn’t yet have a face, well it’s a good way to get yourself known! We like to remind people of the American Airlines story: by removing just one olive from every on-flight meal, they were able to save millions. It’s the small things that often make the biggest difference, creat-ing the base from which all other elements can take off from. A strategic communications plan doesn’t have to be a 100 page book. It does, however, need toclearly elaborate on the following: a situation analysis, a problem statement, a communication audit, objec-tives and goals, target audiences (sometimes there are secondary and tertiary audiences to consider as well),key messages, an action plan including a timeline and budget, and an evaluation. A plan will make your com-munication efforts more efficient, effective, and lasting. It focuses on following the steps needed to achieveyour ultimate goal. Communications enable ideas and information to be transmitted throughout the community. Consid-ering which communications tools to use and how best to get your messages out there should be part of yourplan. For example, holding a press conference when a news release would do or holding a launch party ifthere’s really nothing to launch wouldn’t make much sense. How will people know you exist? Generate tools and materials that will attract positive media atten-tion to your business. The key words to remember are ‘public relations’. You want to create, generate andsustain positive relations with your publics. The best plan is to plan. Enlisting the help of a public relations consultant will help you streamline thewhole communications planning process saving you both time and money in the end. A PR consultant willknow who to speak to and when and which tools will be appropriate and why. They are practiced at creatingnews releases, communications plans and managing events among many other things. Their success hinges onthe success they bring to your business!