Step 9: Develop a Communications Plan
Develop a Communications Plan. Consider: news stories, features, talk shows (radio/TV), Public Service Announcements (PSAs) and press releases.
Consider a communications audit.
A communications audit is a strategic tool that takes a snapshot of your current communications efforts and recommends ways to improve so you can achieve your objectives.
An audit establishes the baseline for what’s working and what isn’t. We look at how you’re communicating internally, including with employees, members of your board of directors, other volunteers and, externally with donors, suppliers/vendors, community partner organizations, the general public and the media.
We look at the issues and image perceptions you are facing as an organization and the communication needs of your target audiences – again, internally and externally. As part of our information gathering, we would want to conduct a SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats – of your organization. This kind of environmental scan provides valuable information on the current internal and external climate in which your organization operates.
To do this part of the review, we talk to people inside and outside the organization about your communications.
For example, on the internal communications side:
- How do people receive information about what is happening in the organization?
- What is communicated?
- Do people have the opportunity to provide feedback or ask questions about the information they receive?
- Is feedback encouraged?
- How frequently do people get information?
On the external side:
- Do people know what the organization’s goals and objectives are and its current challenges?
- How is this information communicated?
- How often and using what methods?
- Do people have a chance to provide input and feedback to the organization on information they receive?
The brand and communications audit also looks at previous and current communications research the organization may have done and any other relevant reports on organizational review, organizational strategic planning or board effectiveness. These documents can provide valuable information about organizational communications that will form the basis of more focused, probing questions and inquiry that we would conduct.
Although there are some common elements to an audit, the first questions we would ask you and your senior team is: “What do you want this review to accomplish for your organization? What does success look like at the end of this process and how will you measure success?
Elements of the brand and communications audit
We develop a critical path that would include regular meetings at key points along the way to provide you with an update on our progress and gather additional input from you. As part of our first steps, we meet with you, your staff and the board of directors to develop the framework for the audit. We gather information on:
- The effectiveness and credibility of current print and web-based communications, marketing/fundraising materials and activities; content analysis for plain language and reading grade-levels;
- Current communications budget, staffing and policies/procedures;
- Media coverage in local, regional print and broadcast outlets, compare/contrast actual coverage against messaging/info sent out by your organization;
- Your strategic plan and any other planning documents that detail organizational goals and objectives;
- How you would measure or define success of a communications audit.
Step 8: Develop a Planned Giving Program
Step 10: Maintain a Regular Newsletter