It is the beginning of another quarter and time for PR professionals to assess the performance of the last quarter and set the goals to plan for the forthcoming one. Before you start working on the communications plan, it is important that you have a discussion with key people from the client’s office to understand their business objectives for the upcoming quarter. Apart from meeting the Corporate Communications Head try to meet the CEO of the company to get a holistic perspective. If possible also meet the HR head, business division heads to gauge their priorities and align the communications plan to it.
Quarter plans should be based on thorough research and aligned to the company’s objectives for the quarter and most importantly it should not be focused on media relations alone. Below is a primer on building a robust and executable communications plan:
- Research & Know: Research, research & research about your client’s industry, the updates, understand what the competitors are doing; showcase this information in your plan. Know about the Government policies impacting your client’s business, understand how political changes can affect them, you can get a better understanding by reading and discussing with your seniors. In fact from a macro perspective what will be best is if your PA team can outline the expected happenings such as policy updates that are linked to the client’s industry, upcoming budget, monetary policy that can be used as a good opportunity to interact with media and showcase your client as a domain expert.
- Map the Influencers & their perception: Know the key influencers for your client’s business; it could be partners, third-party vendors, suppliers, academia, Government, NGO and of course media community. Once the influencer community has been mapped, do a study to understand the current perception about your client. The information gathered will help you draw a lot of insight into the client’s business and its reputation amongst the key influencers.
- Basis the perception, recommend a Strategy: After having gauged and analysing the perception of the influencer community, draw a broad strategic roadmap outlining the companies objectives – business & communication, desired perception, positioning, key target audience, key messages, target geographies, any upcoming business milestones. This will help to align your tactical communications roadmap which should be beyond media.
- Outline the Tactical Plan along with Timeline: Brainstorm tactical plan and ideas with the team, draw a story board based on the key messages, upcoming events where your brand can use guerrilla marketing tactics, map the observational days, editorial calendars of magazines, choose the appropriate tools such as By-lined Articles, Concept Notes, Case Studies, One-to-one interview and select media which can be targeted. Also explore non-media activities such as participation at industry events, recommend tie-up with an NGO/a business partner if makes business sense. Social Media
- Metrics: Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) is a passé, create an objective and measurable metric based on your discussion with the client. You could explore points system where parameters can be outlined such as coverage secured in category of target media (A, B, C), key messages covered in the story, spokesperson quoted, proactive story, exclusive or industry story etc. Such specific parameters always help to set transparent and realistic goals.
- Review the plan & Suggest the way forward: You can develop and build trust with your client, if you are proactive enough to prepare a review of the plan and share with the client achievements, what went well, tactics which worked and which did not and outline the roadmap for the coming months. The client could also share their feedback and add to the plan forward which can be helpful for both partners.
Please share your perspective on what has worked for you when crafting a comprehensive communications strategy framework. Would love to hear your thoughts.