Developing a full blown communication strategy and plan


This is a 2 part series. In Part 1 (Are you a Seat of the Pants Communicator?), I address how a communications audit can help you get a grasp on what you are spending your time on. In Part 2 (Developing a full blown communication strategy and plan), I’ll show you how to move from a plan to a full blown communication strategy.

Earlier, I discussed how a communications audit can make a drastic improvement in how you manage projects once they hit your desk.  Once you’ve completed those steps, you’ve got a mini strategic plan for your communications. The next step is to move that forward into full blown communication planning.

For everything you have identified as an area of communication, you need a communications plan to address it individually.

That plan should include a strategy, a media analysis, a creative plan, a timetable, and a budget.

Let’s take a new customer information packet for example.

Strategy: This area includes the background or situation analysis. For a new customer packet, it might be to replace an outdated handbook. It can include descriptions of current offerings. Will you need outside vendors for printing, design, etc.…?

It also includes a description of your marketing objectives and strategy – such as making new customers feel appreciated and valued as well as potential upselling of additional services or products. This is where you’d also discuss if others will be involved in the process.

Next you identify your communications objective and strategy. For our new member packet, it might be, create a one-stop place for information concerning latest programs and offerings. Increase brand awareness. Make a great first impression. Our strategy could be complete the writing and design for packet. Secure printing options. Develop system for mailing list.

Our next steps deal with your audience. Who is your target audience? You can have a primary and secondary audience. It can include customers, employees, industry influences and community leaders. What is that audiences requirements? For our example, readability is key. Professional in appearance. The design peaks interest.

What is the current perception of your audience? For example – If our current piece is mailed, it contains outdated information, which could cause customers to lose trust in our business. What is your desired perception? Accurate and trusted.

Is there an audience behavior you are trying to create? In this case, you’d be creating repeat business and satisfaction.

The next big area of your plan deals with implementation.

What is your key message or messages? These should be developed with your CEO, staff, and department.

What is the personality or message tone? For a new customer piece it should be upbeat and informative. For a stakeholder’s luncheon, it should be professional and educational.

How will you deliver that message? Do you have specific media targets? Special requirements? Are their postal limitations? Who will send you the new customer list? How often? Who is going to inform you of new programs and offerings? Arrange printing.

Are there content constraints? Is there information you can’t release?

What is your call to action? For this example, you want to generate interest in new offerings and have repeat transactions.

What is your budget? Where will it come from? Total cost is?

Delivery and distribution? How will you get this information out to the intended audience?

Finally comes evaluation. What are your measured evaluations? What specific way will you know the piece was successful? Is it from the number of phone calls or requests for a product or offering? Is it press coverage? Informational messages can be tracked by surveys or include a behavior that you want to track so that you can measure it. Make these specific and able to be counted.

If you’ll get in the habit of developing a plan for each of the things dumped on your desk, it will make you a more productive and more effective communicator.

Are you at “Seat of the Pants” Communicator?


This is a 2 part series. In Part 1 (Are you a Seat of the Pants Communicator?), I address how a communications audit can help you get a grasp on what you are spending your time on. In Part 2 (Developing a full blown communication strategy and plan), I’ll show you how to move from a plan to a full blown communication strategy.

How many of you are the “seat of the pants” kind of communicator? You know what I mean. Everything gets dumped on your desk. All of the deadlines become a jumble. You work on just what has to go out that day.

One of the best ways to get ahead of the curve is through planning. But you have to move away from thinking of planning as a project. It’s not a one and done. It’s a process. The time invested in planning offers many rewards, including: your proof of contribution, budget validity, time savings and focus.

The best way to start, is by just ripping the Band-Aid off. You need to do a communications audit. Take stock of what you are currently doing. You can do the down and dirty method that involves no one but yourself. The key is you have to be willing to detach yourself. You can’t have a pet project. You have to be able to step back and look at each project as an outside consultant.

Take each item and look at when it was created. Does it still tell your story? When was it refreshed? Who is responsible? Is it still viable? Is there work to be done? Should it be discarded? Is there a better way to communicate the message now? Once you answer those, move on to the biggest components of the project. Who much time does it take? What is the budget for it? Be honest – is the piece or program a benefit or is it something you do just because it’s always been done?

Once you’ve looked at all of the components, you need to define the current objectives your organization has in place. Are you contributing with delivering that message currently? Does the corporate goals match your department goals? They should. These goal not only need to include a public aspect, but they also need to address internal initiatives as well.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ve got a mini strategic plan for your communications. Now you need to move that forward into full blown communication planning.

Youth Programs That Grow Engagement

Join us as we look at ways to grow your engagement for years to come!! 

When: Wednesday, December 7 at 11 a.m. Eastern (10 a.m. Central; 9 a.m. Mountain; 8 a.m. Pacific)

Registration Deadline: November 30

Presenter: Chellie Phillips, Marketing, Member Services and Communications, South Alabama Electric Cooperative

For more than 20 years, Chellie Phillips has developed and implemented community and education programs for South Alabama Electric Cooperative’s eight county services territory. She has served as youth tour coordinator for the cooperative and for the last 15 years, the program director for the Alabama Council of Cooperative’s Summer Youth Leadership Conference. In addition, Chellie serves as the Chapter Advisor for the local chapter of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority on Troy University’s main campus. This activity keeps her very engaged with the demographic the co-op is trying to reach. She is also a volunteer for the Pike County Extension Agency.
What you’ll learn:

The presentation will highlight what works to make a successful youth program. Questions you should ask before you begin (staffing, content, desired outcomes, by in from management, utilizing interns). Why it matters that you have them? Once you have the program, how do you continue to interact with those youth? Don’t forget about the parents (some who may be your members, some who might be one day). Make plans to use and engage on the media platforms they are familiar with. Participants will learn how to take those programs and grow an engaged future member, how to use their media to increase response and how you can piggyback off an event and continue the momentum after it is over.

This presentation is designed for anyone who wants to engage youth involvement in their cooperative (Chellie will share a secret that pulls the parents in as well!)


The deadline to register is November. Space is limited. To ensure your spot in the webinar, register online today.

CCA’s December 7 Webinar: Learn how youth programs grow engagement:
Webinar participants will earn 5 points in the Planning & Programs category for MCC designation or renewal.