You digital strategy needs to work with your communications strategy, which in turn needs to reflect the aims of your corporate strategy. Your strategies need to be flexible enough to taking account of any ad hoc projects that come along during its life time. A corporate strategy should have a life time, as its aims and objectives will change over a period of time. So it is important to review this regularly. This period of review maybe say 3-4 years which reflects the life cycle of your funding cycle.
Your digital strategy should not only take account of what you are doing externally but should look internally also, digital is as much about internal communications flow as it is about use of your external platforms.
Put simply, your communications strategy should reflect your corporate strategy and contain within it a line for each entry within you corporate strategy. Your communication strategy should take account of the objectives within the corporate strategy. Ask yourself the question – How are we going to contribute to the corporate strategy within communications? How are we going to assist in achieving the aims of this corporate strategy?
Getting to the nitty gritty
It is when we get to communications planning that we start to get into the detail. The strategy will lay out broad brush strokes; we will contribute to the X corporate objective by doing Y. What are you going to do to help you achieve X. The plan itself will look at Y. Drawing on all of your communication tools to help you achieve this for the organisation.
The Communications Plan itself will break down into regular work, the kind of work that is the bread and butter of any communications team, the production of newsletters, Press releases, website updates, etc. But the comms plan will also include new areas of work to reflect the new comms strategy – produce a new set of communications materials reflecting the new corporate plan.
Looking back at X, how will we do Y.
Looking at the corporate plan if we lay out Aim X like in this example.
Goal 1: Participation
Children and young people's voices and actions improve their lives and the lives of those around them.
1. To influence decision makers to reflect CYP views in policy making process and policy.
2. To enable and empower CYP voices to inform and influence The Charity's practice, policy and research.
3. To ensure CYP involved in The Charity's participation work have a positive and beneficial experience.
4. To enable and empower CYPs to influence decisions that affect their lives.
Taken from NCB website
Our communications plan would take account of these objectives and detail what the communications team plan to do to help achieve each.
Objective 1 taken from the corporate plan
1. To influence decision makers to reflect CYP views in policy making process and policy.
Our Communications Plan may reflect this objective like so;
1. We will undertake research to determine who appropriate decision makers are.
2. Gather CYP voices and views
3. Produce a report and subsequent advocacy document from gathered voices
4. Organise a conference with invited policy makers and CYP to discuss and reflect on report.
Within each of these lines maybe many hours of work and this is just the first objective of say 10 or 12. These lines in the Communications Plan don’t go into a great deal of detail either.
No. 2 Gather CYP voices and views could be done in many different ways, including interviews, focus groups and online. But how do we draw our target groups attention to these opportunities to feed into this process of Voice gathering – We could market it through schools and community centres, use online advertising to highlight the campaign, advertising campaign on buses, an outreach campaign going into schools. There are a myriad of different ways that we could draw attention to this campaign but decisions will normally be made on what resources are available to this element.
It is easy to see that for one small element we could happily fill the communications diary for the year with tasks, what can help us cut down on this workload is a clear goal. So if we were to set the number of Voices and Views to be obtained from CYP to feed into the research at 100 then we could simply pop out to a school in an afternoon to gather views and our work would be complete. If it was say 1,000 or say 10,000 then our work would rise quite considerably and we would need to examine other methods than simply interviewing CYP at one school.
Goal setting is vital for communications teams, it is very easy for comms teams to head off and work just on one strand, after all as far as they are concerned this is the most important thing for their team to do.
So throughout all this reasonable Targets need to be set and they need to be communicated clearly from management to the Comms Team, so they know what they need to aim for. Which in turn helps them when they are looking at the tools they need to draw on to achieve that goal and reach that target level.
So let’s take this a stage further.
When asked I’m often told We want is more visitors to our website! But why do we want more visitors to our website? Just so they visit? What is it we want them to do when they get there? What are we looking to do with them once they are there? What journey have we crafted for them to take when they arrive?
What if. What if the five people that visit your website everyday are the right five people. What if they are the people that you really need to visit your website. What if the right five people visit and when they do they follow to a T the exact trajectory we have set for them. They have clicked the right links, filled out the form, paid their money and chosen us. Then your objective is achieved and you have met your target. On your communications plan you can TICK the right hand box that’s labelled Target. You have done your job and you can happily take your salary at the end of the month knowing you have done a good job.
If only life were that simple. Invariably lots of communications teams have little or no idea who their audience is or the size of it or even what they wish to do with them once they arrive on their website.
So some clear rules need to be set and this is where the communications plan needs to come into play.
Simply saying we want more visitors means nothing as you don’t know if these are the right visitors or when you have reached your goal. So let’s take a look at our communications plan and see if we can come up with a journey for a visitor to take.
Going back to our Comms plan
2. Gather CYP voices and views
If we have as a target of gathering 100 CYP voices purely online how might we do this and what tools might be use from our comms toolbox.
· Email flyers
· Website news
· Website banners
· Social Media
· Online advertising
So those are the tools we are going to use but first we need some other things.
Good Copy: carefully crafted copy which grabs the attention and talks in the language of the people we are looking to attract. The language is really important as so many organisations get the tone of voice incorrect for the audience they are looking to attract. Don’t forget to create and use the key messages around this whole campaign. They will need to be incorporated so you don’t lose sight of what it is that you are hoping to achieve.
Strong images: images that will appeal to the target audience. Have a good range of images, pick three and lead with one.
A form for them to fill out: this is the end process, this is what we are wanting them to do. This is where they will give us their views. The form needs to be short and concise, again talking in the language of our target audience. You may want to offer a prize or a some other incentive to get them to complete the form. The form itself should be embedded in your website. Don’t send them elsewhere as once they are on your website you can get them interested in another campaign maybe or get them to sign up to your Young People’s Voice newsletter if it fits with your communications plan.
We know where we wish to get our audience to and that is the form on our website but how is it we get them to the form?
Banner advertising: On our website we may place banners advertising the form and the opportunity to win a prize for the people that fill the form out – this will naturally work for some visitors to our website, they’ll read a banner, click to take them through to the form and complete it.
Website News: Producing a news item on the website is the bread and butter of everyday life for the comms team.
Email Flyers: Comms teams should have an in depth knowledge of the people on their mailing list, they should know who the people are and how their audience breaks down into different groupings. So if our mailing list already has hundreds of CYP on it – it will be a simple matter of sending a couple of emails linking them to the page on the website dependent on our mailing list make up. If we what we could send out reminder emails and build this campaign into a news item in our regular enews.
Social Media: What are our messages around this campaign? We should have drawn these up early when we were crafting our carefully crafted copy and now is the time to adapt and use. You’ll need to examine platforms..... Where are our audience? You can do a fantastic jobs with your key messages but if you are sending them out on the wrong platform then you are going to receive no clicks on the link to your site. So again, check the platform that CYP use, when do they use it and how? You’ll need what you are doing to fit into these parameters. Timing your postings on Social media for the right days and the right time of day.
Online advertising: for our target if 100 CYP voices online advertising through the likes of Google or Facebook probably wouldn’t be needed but if our target was 10,000 CYP voices then maybe we would, you should be able to get some way there using Social Media depending on the period of time you have for this campaign to run. But the decision to use online advertising would also need to be determined by what budget is available for the campaign. We need to remember the budget, this isn’t just for gathering voices but for the whole of Goal one.
So what is it you are looking to achieve today?
Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
Attainable – assuring that an end can be achieved.
Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
So is what you are wishing to achieve measureable? Well according to our objective yes it is. We wanted 100 people to complete the form on our website. How many have done that? 204 – so we have reached our goal. We have 204 completed questionnaires from our website form and we can see that our objective was set a little low at 100.
So what does all of this tell us.
Well it tells us we need to know why we are setting goals within communications. We are setting goals to meet objectives in the corporate plan. They should not be set on a whim. The objectives should be clear, accurate and written down.
If our objective is to get more people to the website we should know what it is that we want them to do when they get there. We should set a trajectory for them, either they arrive on a landing page –which is the exact page we wish them to or we control the journey they take throughout the site. ....the arrive on the home page but our call to action encourages them to click a button or banner to move them to the page where they will find even more enticing copy which is where we really want to get them to. Maybe the objective is to get them to fill out a mailing list form for a weekly newsletter or maybe it is to become a member of the site? But we should always utilise our communications toolkit to do this.
Whatever you aim to do it should be clear to both you and to the visitor and the use of cunning marketing should always take place along the way.