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Hold the Ad Buy! Do You Have a Communications Strategy Yet?

You wouldn’t try to take a trip around the world or build a new home without a master plan — this leaves too many unknowns and causes many hurdles along the way. It is important for everyone involved to know where they need to be and when, know how to get from one stage to the next and how many different experts are needed to complete the project. So why would you plan an advertising campaign without a communications strategy?

Group meeting

Not only can thorough communications planning save you time and money by preventing miscommunications and mistakes, but it also brings consistency to your message and ensures success at every step along the way.


Internal Benefits of a Communications Strategy

From the get-go, communications planning identifies what your target audience wants and needs from you and helps you to align with that audience. It is important to involve staff in the building of a communication plan and factor in the corporate culture. When staff feel their ideas have been considered, their buy-in to the communication strategy increases. This is especially important considering your staff are your most important ambassadors, especially frontline workers who have direct interaction with your customers. Nothing provides more positive marketing than happy employees with high buy-in.

Let’s look at a plumbing business as an example. ABC Plumbing has looked at their values and corporate culture and determined that their plumbers are up on the newest technology; friendly and approachable; and have a great sense of humour. Its communications plan is developed around these traits as have all of its marketing initiatives.

Once a marketing initiative is rolled out, an announcement is made so the plumbers are kept in the loop with all upcoming promotions, ad campaign and overall communication strategy. This transparent communication is important because the more knowledge the plumbers have about the company’s marketing, the better they can implement the communication strategy, especially when it is one they can align with. When staff can relate to the communications of the company, they are more willing support the campaign and go above and beyond to ensure its success.

The other major benefit of a communications strategy is that it helps you to determine what outside help you will need. You save time and money by bringing in professionals to handle tasks that your employees aren’t qualified to do or might not feel comfortable doing. As a result, your employees’ time is kept free for the things that they are good at.


External Benefits of a Communications Strategy

Outside the company, a communications plan takes into account the target audience, and what that audience needs and wants. With these needs in mind, the strategy can be developed to create and maintain consistent communication and synergy across all parts of the campaign. This might include a media relations strategy, branding, presentations, obtaining community buy-in, web development or any other pieces of the marketing plan.


Summing Up

When you’re creating a communications plan, it’s important to consider the key decision makers in your organization and create a plan that they all support. The plan will identify your organization’s overarching goals and objectives and give you a road map of how to get there.

The key is to determine WHO you want to talk to; WHY you want to talk to them; and WHAT you want to say — and then ensure that your message is consistent.

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About the Author - Susan Elford
Susan Elford, BA (Hons), BPR, APR, Strategic Public Relations Associate With over 20 years in the business, Susan has special interest areas in strategic communications planning, community relations, corporate social responsibility, public consultation, media relations and communications policy development.