Being more than half way through the first month of the new year, it’s occurred to me that as well grey skies and dieting, January is all about planning. And for anyone working in communications, this makes it an absolutely critical time of year.
PLAN-uary, as I’m now coining it, has mostly seen the Target team hit the ground running putting new communications activity into action, or creating fresh plans to help clients secure budget for a new financial year in April. Of course, it’s a great time for new clients considering change to contact us too.
So, I thought I’d share some of the key PLAN-uary questions that we’ve been asking our clients, and helping them to answer, to give some insight into how we go about creating strategic communications plans that deliver results.
Is your mission and vision clear?
We work with businesses of all different sizes across many different sectors but having a clear mission and vision is fundamental to them all. Therefore, this is where our conversation often starts because we need to understand what the business does now and what it wants to be in the future. However, it’s not always about starting from scratch. We bring our communications expertise to help simplify and refine a mission and vision so we can more easily support the direction of travel with an effective plan that gets us where we want to go.
What are your priorities?
Whether we’re delivering a retained communications service or a short project, we work with our clients to agree what our key focus needs to be. It could be the launch of new products, services or solutions, or raising brand awareness among a new audience. Setting priorities helps us to define key messages so a focused communications plan delivers the right message to the right audience, at the right time, in the right way. It also helps us advise our clients to ensure their communications resource is set at the right level.
Who are you talking to?
A good communications plan is focused on talking to the right people and understanding your audience. Our plans always take an informed and targeted approach that’s based on insight, we don’t do scatter-gun comms with the hope that something sticks. As an agency, we don’t specialise in a single sector but our broad experience means we know how to tailor communications appropriately to different audiences, and across different channels. We will always challenge our clients to see things from the customer’s point of view, and tell us what they know about them, how they know it and why they know it. Testing this knowledge helps us to make sure we communicate with the right people in the right way and don’t miss the mark by making assumptions.
How can you measure success?
Measuring the impact of communications has been forever changed by the always-evolving digital landscape, and as PR professionals, we now have more tools at our disposal than ever before to offer greater analysis, insight and intelligence for clients. But every measurement and evaluation programme we implement is bespoke and that’s why setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) needs to be considered an integral part of the planning process. If you don’t know whether you’re measuring lead generation or share of voice, how can you know your plan has been successful?
Sure, these might sound like basic logical steps but Target’s been doing this for more than 40 years and you’d be surprised how often the fundamentals have been forgotten because of a good idea. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for a good idea too, but as a lover of planning and process I know that immersing myself in PLAN-uary can be the difference between a good idea and a GREAT idea that delivers.