Communications planning: the principles

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By Caroline Kealey

Here are my all-time top five principles for strategic communications planning:

1. Communications should be focused on resultsrather than activity

Often, communicators are in the business of generating “stuff” — speeches, media releases, and promotional materials. The communications function is much more effective when it is driven to generate results, such as increased rates of awareness, product sales, improved stakeholder relationships or strengthened internal alignment. The tactics are important, but they are fundamentally secondary to the primary alignment of the communications function toward solid outcomes.

2. Effective communications does not happen by accident

The key to effective communications is planning. Though communications often has an important function to play in being in a responsive or reactive posture, proactive communication generates more impact at less cost and less risk to the extent that it is planned.

3. Communications should be designed to deliver a measurable result

Investments of resources (human or financial) in communications activities should be subject to transparency and accountability for delivering an observable, measurable result.

4. Communications is a support function

It’s important not to communicate for the sake of communicating. To be strategic, communications must by definition be aligned to support and propel the organization’s mandate and objectives.

5. Plan communications from the inside out

Communications planning should always include consideration of employees as a key audience — staff can greatly contribute to communications efforts, and excluding them from communications activities can be erosive to internal engagement and trust. When planning communications, consider the concept of starting from the inside, then moving out to stakeholders, such as key partners or strategic alliances.

Any principles you’d add or remove?

Image: Missouri Development

Caroline Kealey is an internationally recognized communications strategist, speaker, trainer, facilitator and author. She also founded Results Map, an innovative methodology that engineers projects to consistently deliver measurable results. This post first appeared on the Results Map Blog.

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