how are your communications plans, campaigns and activities working out so far this year? Swimmingly? Or, are you drowning? An all-new workshop designed to help you communicate in a digital world might just do the trick…
by Darren Caveney
I’ve been writing comms plans and strategies for 20-years now (I know, you can’t believe I’m that old) I’ve written lots of them. Probably hundreds.
Some of them delivered great results, some served their purpose and others didn’t fly. In truth, some didn’t stand a chance – ultimately, you’re only as good as the product. The PR rough with the comms smooth, you could say.
But I’ve learned a lot in the process.
When digital began to really have an impact on my communications world 10-years ago it changed the way I looked at my comms plans. Suddenly there were new channels and more direct ways to reach audiences. It was all very shiny and exciting and I was in a rush to become skilled at digital.
But it’s worth stating again that digital is not a silver bullet to deliver everything we need from a good comms plan or campaign.
Picture communications as a machine gun loaded with lots of very different bullets. Our task is to know how and when to load the right one for our work. Some will hit the target, some won’t. Experience and nous helps prevent us from spraying bullets all over the place. Knowledge and intelligence can help us be more precise with our aim.
During the last couple of years an increasingly large part of my time has been spent carrying communications reviews on behalf of organisations across the sectors. It’s fascinating work looking in microscopic detail at what works, what doesn’t and understanding where the next plan needs to be heading in terms of strategic route. Being more informed and making best use of budgets, time and resource is so, so important now.
The timeless skills and planning principles are not thrown out of the window because digital happened either. That’s why I like so much the phrase ‘communicating in a digital world’ because that’s what we’re all trying to do now.
The comms and PR planning principles which Anne Gregory taught me in the early 90s at the UK’s very first PR degree course are still absolutely relevant today despite a changing world.
Enormous comms strategies generally aren’t the way to go, as they become too inflexible to adapt through the lifecycle of a campaign or plan. But equally a plan which is too simplistic and without sound planning and evaluation embedded within it will only increase the chances of our work failing.
So how is best to communicate in a digital world full of growing expectations and precious resources?
Well we have developed what we call our ‘9-step plan to communicate in a digital world’ to help.
One of the first steps in our planner is to focus on your landscape. This is vital - having intel and data to inform your plans and campaigns is a must.
Having a clear set of objectives which support and underpin organisational priorities is just as important.
Then when you drill down and look at who you need to engage with you can really begin to get into the bones of an effective comms plan.
Knowing what good content looks like, and how to create it across all channels including digital, can make the difference between ordinary and successful communications. Creating compelling ways to engage with your audiences and achieving stand-out can be difficult but not impossible by looking at the best in class and learning from what has worked elsewhere.
Images and conversation and video can all play a part in this. And word of mouth still takes a hell of a lot of beating.
How much of your work is well planned and then effectively evaluated?
And do you shout about these successes internally to ensure your team gets recognition?
These are the kind of things which can so easily slip the net with increasing pressure and demands when we move onto the next thing and the next thing.
Finally managing demand and creating the headspace to deliver great work. That might just be the biggest challenge we face right now. Just saying “we’re really busy” won’t be enough to cut it. Everyone is busy, or at least claims to be. We have given this issue a lot of thought and have created a process and system we think can be a real help to busy teams right now.
During the workshop we’ll take you through our complete cycle of communications planning and delivery with a real focus on the effective use of digital
So if you really want to get under the skin of your comms activity and how you can make best use of your skills, time and resource you might want to take a look at our all-new workshops scheduled for London, Leeds and Edinburgh.
is co-creator of comms2point0 and a creative communications specialist
image via Tyne and Wear Archives and Museum