You’re sitting in the passenger seat of a car. Your colleague is sitting next to you in the driver’s seat, taking the both of you down a winding road and relying on you to navigate. You have no map, no phone, and the last time you took this trip was years ago. You roughly know where you want to go but, in truth, you have no idea how you’ll get there given that you’re totally unprepared. This is exactly what it’s like to try guiding your business in the right direction without a communication strategy.

In a nutshell, a communication strategy is like a roadmap that guides organizations to effectively deliver their message to their audience and meet organizational objectives outlined within the plan. The communication strategy identifies the audience you are trying to reach, the message you are trying to get across, and the methods or channels that will ensure your message gets where it needs to go with its integrity intact.

Why is a Community Strategy Important?

The main goal or purpose of every communication strategy is to develop a clear, structured and consistent approach to communications, whether directed inwards or outwards. After all, the first step of a journey is deciding where you’re journeying to. The strategy also provides a structure for how to achieve said objectives. 

It is a necessity for every organization for five good reasons:

1. It forces organizations to be clear on their purpose and goals.

2. It generates a specific description of the target audience and how to connect with them

3. It pulls all members of the organization and other stakeholders onto the same page.

4. It directs the use of resources into a streamlined system and prevents waste.

5. It helps to achieve organizational objectives and to measure your success.

Plans, Strategies & Al. – Mostly a Matter of Semantics

The simplest way to differentiate a communication strategy and a communication plan is that the strategy deals with what your organization communicates while your plan lays out how to do it.

A global communication strategy will evolve and adapt at the same rhythm as your organizational needs and requires an in-depth understanding of the path your organization needs to take to develop a strong, lasting connection with its audience. Your communication plan is typically more concrete, project-specific and time-sensitive.

A marketing plan, on the other hand, is thought of by some as similar to a business plan or market research in the sense that it can involve intensive research, large amounts of quantitative data, and may determine whether or not a product goes to market, and if so, how it will be marketed.

Some people perceive the words “communication” and “marketing” as interchangeable but generally speaking, it’s safe to say that a communication ‘product’ focuses first and foremost on the message and communication channels while a marketing ‘product’ is more interested in the tactical approach.

Of course, all of these plans and strategies eventually overlap and intertwine to create a network of support for your business.

What Material Does a Communication Strategy Cover?

A communication strategy can have many different sections but at the end of the day, each is unique, no two are the same. Every strategy; however, must have:

  • A process by which to carry out the strategy
  • A situation analysis
  • The overall objective of the strategy
  • Specific goals that your organization hopes to achieve using the strategy
  • A plan that will allow you to carry out the strategy

General VS Specific

There are two types of communication strategies: general and specific. A general strategy covers the organization as a whole and looks at it holistically. As a result, it can be quite lengthy though not necessarily specific to individual programs, products or initiatives.

A specific plan is usually created for a given project or campaign. This could be something like the launch of a new product or a time-sensitive fundraising effort. Such a plan focuses on distinct goals and subgoals to generate hype, improve program awareness, boost sales of said product, raise funds for a specific project, etc.

But whether it’s a general or specific strategy, both will include elements such as objectives, positioning, audiences, channels, and so on, understanding that a specific strategy will be much more focused in its approach to each of these elements.

What Does Developing a Communication Strategy Entail

Every communication strategy starts with a desire to improve communications and a core problem that the organization wants to address. It may be centered around something that is lacking or it may seek to move the organization in a different direction for the future.

Regardless of what the problem is or where it comes from, research will need to be done to figure out how it should be attacked. The research phase may include gathering any relevant data you already have, sending out surveys, or more in-depth interviews with members of your audience to understand if your message is resonating and where best to share it.

Every communication strategy is different and so is the process of developing it, so there is no shame in having a few drafts before the plan is finalized. The variability of these plans is a common reason for organizations to outsource the development process to professionals.

How We Can Help You

At The Storyteller, we want to provide you with whatever level of support you need to help your organization get its message across effectively and authentically.

We have helped a wide variety of clients with a communication strategy or marketing plan. Some clients already have very relevant data to base the strategy on while others need us to do more extensive research before making recommendations.

It’s interesting to see that the issues at stake are sometimes very different than what they appeared to be at the beginning of the project, which is why a preliminary evaluation is so important.

Some clients come to us strictly for a strategy to implement on their own while others also need our support to create an action plan and develop tools in response to the implementation.

We understand that each client is different and address their needs with that idea in mind.

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