Developing a communications strategy

Use these prompts as a template to plan your communications

1. Context

Give a summary of your organisation or campaign. What are its brand values? (Is there an existing brand strategy you need to take into account?). What are its vision and mission?

What’s the ‘state of the world’ for your organisation/campaign? Use analysis tools:
PEST: Political, Economic, Social and Technological factors
SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
Competitor: Identify and assess strengths and weaknesses. Any potential collaborations?

2. Purpose

Is there an existing organisational strategy with clear goals? If so, which goals from your organisational strategy or campaign plan will your communications focus on delivering?

For a campaign communications strategy, give a short summary of the campaign plan including the power analysis and theory of change

Are the goals…
Compelling: Create a powerful story that capture and hold attention
Targeted: Clear objectives that can be achieved
Impactful: Will make a difference (to people, the environment etc)

Develop these goals into deliverable SMART communications objectives.

3. Audiences

Which public groups (defined by, for example, certain demographics and the values they hold) are likely to support your organisation or campaign, take action, donate or use your service? Which of these groups should be your priority audiences, on whom your communications will focus? Who are these audiences? What do you know about them?

4. Key messages

What’s the most powerful way to motivate your audience? To what angle will your target audience best respond?

Tell your story using ‘PSB’, answering the questions:

  • What’s the problem/need?
  • What’s the solution you offer?
  • What are the benefits, and who benefits?
  • What’s the call to action?

Have no more than 3 bullet points for each, written as short, clear and simple soundbites that all your communications will focus on delivering.

Audience-specific messages

Are there specific messages for different audiences? These too should have prepared soundbites. Don’t stray far from your key messages, but you should be aware that the different priority audiences won’t always share the same values.

5. Communications channels

What are the appropriate communications channels to engage successfully with the priority audiences? (eg local or national newspapers, email, door-to-door leafleting, TV news, website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc.)

What are the specific content expectations for each channel? (e.g. if Facebook is an important channel, audiences might expect a regular mix of text, image and video content)

Which channels, due to their typical content, tone and consumption patterns, suit which goals and messages?

6. Activities and tactics

What activities will you use to focus and deliver your communications? What tactics will you employ to build your network and motivate your supporters? Media coverage (and your own media) needs news, images, people, stories. So, your campaigns need events, photo opportunities and media stunts, activities, surveys and reports.

7. Evaluation and review

How will you evaluate and review your communications effectiveness? How will you learn and, if necessary, adjust your strategy and tactics?

OUTPUTS: Have clear, measurable targets, such as # pieces of national print coverage, # visitors to website, # social media actions

OUTCOMES: But don’t just measure communications outputs – are you achieving your SMART comms objectives? Are you having an impact on organisational goals?

Other resources