Last week, a potential client asked me to look at their annual strategic communications plan. They sent a draft over. I read it. I scrolled to the next page and the next. It was seven pages long but something really important was missing.
Maybe it was me. So I opened my search bar and entered “Goals.” Nothing. Ok, maybe they’ve misnamed it “Objectives.” Nope.
I went into our meeting and asked them what they were trying to achieve from their communications team. Crickets. I tried again. In a year, how would they know their communications plan was successful?
From their seven-page list of tactics I had teased out what looked like their target audience and from their strategic plan, I took a few stabs what their goals and objectives might look like.
I put together a matrix of their existing tactics and the audiences they were reaching. It was fascinating to see the gaps and where the previous consultant had chosen to concentrate on. They had no picture who they were talking to and what they wanted to say. They were doing things like buying ads, sponsoring events, and going to events — but without a clear picture of who they were concentrating on, or why, it was nearly impossible to say if they reached their goal.
When I showed the matrix to the client he was stunned, “I’ve never seen anything like this. It shows me we’ve just been doing things but I don’t know why.”
That’s where I can help. I can help make a plan that draws a nice clear line between what they want to achieve and what they are doing.
Doing communications things is easy. Tactics are sexy and fun. Let’s send out a press release or host an event. Things get done. Without a plan it’s easy to think you are making progress. The tactics in their plan created action– they handed out pencils and got some coverage in a paper. But, it’s a bit like going on a roadtrip without a map — you’ll end up somewhere. You may even have fun. But if you need to get the Ring to Mordor you need something better.
Every plan, every action should be taking you to your goal — take a look at your big goals, is that where you want to go? And are the things you are doing taking you there?