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Planning Successful Communications for 2020: Tips to Help

By on Thursday, January 2, 2020

2020 is here, and how will you take your communications program to the next level? Let’s not talk about resolutions, let’s talk about how to make concrete plans for your communications strategy.

This process can be done with post-it notes on a big wall area, on a white board, or on your computer screen. It may take a couple of hours to do, but it will give you a blueprint to follow.

Start with the audiences you want to reach. Who do you want to talk or engage with? Volunteers? Donors? Potential supporters in your community?  Staff? People who have benefited from your programs? The media? Public officials?

Outline your goals for each audience. Try to think about what communications can DO for your mission and relationships with these audiences.

Is your goal to inspire the target audience to connect more personally to your work? Or do you just want to build relationships with three new reporters? Do you want for people to volunteer more for roles that others may not like? Or is your goal to better educate the public or volunteers about the needs of the people you serve?

List your tactics. Under each goal, write down the action steps you will need to take to reach those goals. You may have 1 or more tactics for each goal.

Sample tactics might include starting a new e-newsletter for key audiences, pitching a story to a news reporter, re-branding your logo, making over your website, organizing a donor recognition reception, adding 6 video stories to your website, posting an impact story on your social media twice a month, or developing a new volunteer program with a roll out date and plans for events.

Now make a chart. Write out the months of the year across the top of the chart in order (January, February, March etc.) List your audiences in a column on the left side with their goals.

Under the months, write the tactics you will use to achieve each goal. Some months might not have much action for a given goal. Crtain tactics might repeat multiple times.

For example, if one of your tactics is a quarterly e-newsletter, you will need to list it four times on the chart, in the months that you plan to publish it. Add line items for writing and collecting materials for the e-newsletter too, remembering to start well ahead of the date when you want to publish it.

Determine how you will measure success. Can you measure number of new Facebook followers? Email list subscribers? Numbers of new donors and volunteers? Web traffic? Positive reviews and comments?

Set a realistic time frame, perhaps once per month, to check in on your progress and review your plans. It’s also a good time to look at the metrics you are monitoring, as you can chart changes over time. Try not to make this process too cumbersome and pick one or two metrics to keep tabs on.

This simple chart can help you map out your work flow for the year and keep you on track for success. While it may not be as complex as other strategic public relations plans, it can help guide your work and keep you focused.

This article originally appeared in Instigate Magazine, where Ami writes a bimonthly column. Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, an independent PR practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media engagement, writing services, and creative design for publications and websites (contact to discuss your projectreview our portfoliosign up for our e-newsletter). She blogs about media relations, social media, public relations, and work-family balance. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven

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