Refreshing your comms strategy
Updated: May 20
I sat down this week to review and refresh the strategy for a long-running campaign. I came out of it brimming with new ideas and energy, and it struck me very powerfully what a great use of time it is to go back to basics once in a while with your comms strategies. So here’s my five top tips on hitting the ‘refresh’ button:
Take a step back
Start with a nice, expansive brainstorm of what’s going on in the world. It doesn’t need to be comprehensive or take a long time - just jot down the big things that come to mind - using a framework like PESTLE is good to give you some prompts. I like to do a first pass, then go for a walk or make a cup of coffee, as lots of other things bubble up when I let my brain relax a bit.
It’s the audience, stupid
Next, remind yourself EXACTLY who you’re trying to target. Is it a clearly defined group or groups? Can you clarify or refine your audiences based on what you’ve done so far in the campaign or project? How are they affected by the ‘big picture’ stuff you’ve just mapped out? Does it change how receptive they’re going to be to what you’re doing? What ARE you doing, anyway? Have you got some actual goals, and proper SMART objectives? Have they changed, or can you tighten them up now?
Photo by Melanie Deziel on Unsplash
Yep, it’s that trusty favourite the SWOT analysis. Hopefully you’ve got one in your original strategy, so pull it out and have a good, honest look at it. Have those ‘strengths’ been living up to their promise? Or has an unforeseen hitch meant that your ‘established network of partners and supporters’ haven’t been singing from your hymn sheet? Repeat for each category, then head out for another walk or coffee. Or preferably both at this point. Take a notebook to jot down all your great thoughts (or use voice notes and march around speaking into your phone like an Apprentice candidate).
Talk to the (campaign) in the mirror
Now it’s time for some tough love. If you can, stick your goals and objectives up on the wall or on a whiteboard. Then pull out your most recent evaluation reports. Are you actually measuring your objectives, or just the stuff that’s easy to put numbers against? Add in new measures where they’re needed, including qualitative indicators. Ask yourself honestly what’s working, and what’s not working. Does your approach match up with your goals and objectives? Or have you got stuck in a comfort zone? What would you do in an ideal world if time and money were no object? Is there another way you can achieve any of that?
Strip it back
The art of strategy is what you leave out, and the same is true of messaging. All too often, in a long-running campaign, the impact of your message gets lost in a load of ‘and’s. Your final task is to revisit your message house and hone it down. You should have ONE concise and compelling umbrella key message. If this isn’t simple enough to hold in your mind, there’s zero chance it will have an impact on your audience. Can you simplify the supporting messages? Ideally, you want 3-5 supporting ‘pillars’, each backed by one or two good proof points.
Now have a drink and tell someone else about it - it’s a great way to ferret out any flaws, and figure out anything that’s still confusing, or lacking a bit of ‘oomph’.
The whole process needn’t take more than a few hours. And it’s guaranteed to recharge your campaign’s batteries and leave you refreshed and raring to go...
Wave photo by Mark Harpur on Unsplash