The best way to align the work of the communication department with your organization’s goals is through an effective strategic plan–one that focuses on using communication to affect the behaviors that contribute to the bottom line.
Developing your strategic plan is a team effort. We’ll review your organization’s goals and your current communication plans. We’ll interview your communication staff and your executives. We’ll review all existing research about your current communications. If necessary, we’ll suggest additional research to make sure that we have a realistic understanding of what is and is not working for you now.
Then we’ll document our assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your communication plan, and the opportunities and threats presented by your organization’s plan, your industry and your marketplace. This becomes the basis of an off-site session where we facilitate a focused brainstorming to take your communications from where they are now to become the new foundation for a strategy that is more focused on business results.
Your plan will address:
- Better meeting the needs of your communication stakeholders.
- Developing campaigns on integrated messages using the best combinations of channels.
- Remixing the channels available to your audiences to provide the best combination of access, credibility and effectiveness at the lowest cost.
- Providing the right infrastructure of staffing, budget and other resources to support the rest of the strategy.
How We’re Different
- We focus strategies on operational outcomes and the audience behaviors it will take to achieve them.
- We base strategies on research, not just gut perceptions.
- Strategies we develop include measures of success.
Sample Projects: Strategic Planning
At one company the internal communication manager’s new boss wanted a strategic plan developed in less than a week. We gathered samples of all the communication channels available and inventoried them. We debriefed the entire communication staff on what they thought had and hadn’t been working well. We identified what direction senior management was taking the company. Then we put it all together in a written plan that provided a precise description of where communication was at the moment and how the department would need to operate differently to reach employees more effectively with messages that were more behaviorally specific.
A Fortune 100 company had eliminated nearly all internal communications during a major downsizing. Two years later, senior leadership realized they needed to rebuild the function to help them drive a re-energized growth strategy throughout their global workforce. We conducted executive interviews and on-site benchmarking visits with other global companies, which provided a strong research basis to the strategic plan we developed during 2-1/2 days of brainstorming. Each element of the plan included measures of success to track the plan’s implementation.
A global health care company’s annual strategic planning process typically resulted in pages and pages of strategies developed along product lines and communication department functions. This often resulted in disconnected messages being sent to some of the same audiences from different communication staffers. When the client asked for help in making the plan more measurable, we began by deconstructing the plan into a giant grid that outlined each of the messages and tactics for each family of stakeholders. Then we were able to flesh out the plan and develop measures that involved researching each audience only a once a year on all the messages and tactics intended for it.
Strategic Planning Training
One client’s company is highly decentralized, with communicators in the field reporting to the regional business unit heads instead of the corporate communication office. The corporate office provided a full-day training session on strategic planning to communicators in each of their regions. Each region’s communicators worked together in the participatory exercises to develop strategic plans based on their own unit’s business goals. By the end of the training sessions, all the communicators were using a common approach and template for communication planning, which has had lasting value in cross-regional initiatives.