Developing a communications strategy

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communications strategy
communications strategy
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A communication strategy blends the situation and program implementation. But, what is it, and why is it important? 

A communications strategy involves a written plan on how the brand intends to reach its vision and objectives. The great news is that you need not wrack your brains over this. You can take the helping hand of a communications firm to fulfil this endeavour. Irrespective of the kind of the project, whether small or big, formal or otherwise, a well-articulated communication strategy helps you ensure efficiency within the organisation. 

How to start penning down your communications strategy?

Statement of Purpose

When approaching a communications firm to get with the communication strategy or doing it internally, explicitly mentioning the reason for the strategy and the expectations (what you hope to achieve from it) always helps. The Statement of Purpose or SOP is not just a bunch of words written on a page. The step helps define the tone and roadmap so that the activities, products and tools work together in harmony.

Putting forth the current scenario

Next up, it is crucial to understand the current context and scenario. Doing so enables the communications team to put things in perspective. The scenario analysis shall include the functions and operations of the organisation along with the geographical aspect. The team will look at the strengths, including what has worked successfully for the brand and business in the last few years. The below-mentioned tools will come in handy. 

PEST Analysis

PEST is an abbreviation that stands for Political, Economic, Social and Technological factors. Note that this analysis is primarily applicable for MNCs or businesses that operate in more than one country. Alternatively, it also helps for brands that have a prominent presence in diverse or multicultural countries. 

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These four factors invariably affect all brands and businesses, at least indirectly, if not directly. The PEST analysis shall lay out both the positive and negative impacts of these parameters on your company. For instance, the ‘political’ factor should entail issues such as a change in governance or a new policy agenda. 

SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis enlists strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The communications team will study these aspects and contextualise them in terms of your communications strategy. One of the functions of the communications team shall be to mitigate threats into opportunities. Also, the team shall devise a plan for leveraging your brand and company strong suits through effective communications.

Competitor Analysis

When assessing the current scenario, brands and businesses need to factor in competition. An excellent starting point is identifying the primary competitors and ranking them against your product, placement and marketing criteria. Also, companies must look at the strengths and weaknesses of their rivals to see the areas that can be tapped upon.

Know your stakeholders and audiences

Moving on, the communications team should conduct a detailed breakdown of the primary audiences; these include both external and internal. Also, you might want to look at prospective audience members and segments. Typically, audience segmentation involves the stakeholder groups like the general public, end-users, employees and the government.

That being said, most companies have multiple audiences. The general public and end-user categories, for instance, are further broken down using demographics such as age, income levels, and hobbies and interests. When devising the communications strategy, it is crucial to gauge which audiences will be most interested. For multiproduct or multi-brand firms, a further dive into the activities and industry is a must. The in-depth analysis makes it easier to streamline the communications plan. 

Also, remember to consider audience mapping. It involves selecting criteria and ranking the varied audiences against them. Doing so helps you understand which audiences you should focus on the most. 

Defining the Key Performance Indicators

After situation and audience analysis, next up is defining the metrics and measurements of success. Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, are integral for meeting your objectives. Say you have launched a trailer to your upcoming movie or series. The number of views and likes on digital media formats are a good indication of how the content is faring with the target audience. A subsequent KPI could be the footfall - or number of visitors - at the cinema halls. However, make sure that you choose the appropriate metrics to determine growth and campaign success.

Note that defining the KPIs is not sufficient in getting to the end goal. A project is a collaborative pursuit that requires contributions from several functional departments. Although every contributor does their best to provide the best performance, they tend to measure success through the lens of their subject matter or department. In business parlance, this is tunnel vision. The subject that matters to a particular contributor may not, as much, to the overall project or the company. Hence, the communications firm should spell out the metrics that matter to the company and project; this helps guarantee that everyone is on the same page. 

Feedback before the final launch

Before launching the campaign, getting feedback from numerous sources, both internal and external, is crucial. Customers, industry experts, product managers and sales and marketing members make up the critical influencers of the strategy. So, interview and consult with the key stakeholders to ensure that the product is relevant and audience-oriented. 

Parting Words

Given the pace of technological innovations and business enterprise, an integrative approach is imperative. The good news is that several analytical tools and software help gauge the success of communications strategy. 

Once you have a winning formula at hand, the next step lies in fine-tuning individual aspects to get maximum value and reach. 

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