Asking lots of questions is a key skill when it comes to good communications. Plus listening well to the answers to help guide your strategic approach and the tactical steps to test out and take.
Here’s some key questions you should be asking if you’re a small charity that’s developing your communications strategy.
- What are my organisation’s objectives? You need to know what these are so that your comms strategy is effective in helping you reach your organisation’s overall goals.
- What are we hoping to achieve with this comms strategy? It’s easy to lose sight of the end goal and fall into the trap of scattergun communications. The clearer you can be about what your aim is, the more focused your communications activity will be, and the better your results.
- Where are we now? You can use a PEST and/or SWOT analysis to help with this. This might include having a look at what your competitors are up to with their comms; plus asking your current stakeholders what they think.
- Who are we talking to? Do we know who our audiences are? Hint: if your audience is ‘everyone’ you need to narrow this down! It’s extremely difficult to reach ‘the general public’ as a small brand with limited resources.
- Which are our most important audiences? Focus on knowing, targeting and nurturing your priority groups. This might include your donors, your funders, your volunteers, your staff, your beneficiaries, or people and groups who can influence on your behalf.
- What do we want to talk to each audience about? Otherwise known as your ‘key messages.’ These address the important questions of what you want your audiences to think, feel and do in response to what you are saying.
- How are we going to talk to them? Here you need to consider the channels that you are going to use to reach your different audiences. This could include via your website, email marketing, social media marketing, media relations, events (in real life or online) or posting out and placing print materials like posters, letters and leaflets.
- Do we need any new ones? Do we need to get rid of any? Look at what you are using already, how well each channel is helping you reach your goals, and what else you might need. Equally, don’t be afraid to stop using any platforms that aren’t working for you.
- What resources do we have and what do we need? This includes people and budget as well as your content – such as case studies, photography, videos etc. Prioritise! Look at the resources that you have in relation to your goals.
- How long is this going to take? What are our timescales? How often will we communicate? You might be developing a 12 month strategy, for example, or a 3 year one. Equally your strategy could be tied to a particular campaign with, for example, a 3 month lifespan.
- Do we have a work plan or activity plan to help us get there? This is the ‘doing’ part and a short plan or spreadsheet can help you keep a track of each tactical activity, who’s responsible for it, what they need to deliver it and when it’s happening.
- And finally, how are we doing so far? It’s evaluation time, so lots of questions! What are our outputs? What are our outcomes? What’s working? What isn’t? What have we learned that we can feed into our next strategy…
If you need a hand in reviewing your current communications strategy or putting together a new one, do get in touch.
And here’s some more useful stuff!
NCVO offers a free step-by-step guide to producing a comms strategy, including exercises and downloads.
Charity Comms has a range of resources that will help you ‘put strategic thinking at the heart of all effective comms’.
The Media Trust has a great ‘resource hub’ plus lots of training, including free masterclasses on digital marketing strategy.
Small Charities Coalition has a selection of marketing and communications strategy guides, templates and tips.