Communications planning: 5 questions to ask

Communications planning: 5 questions to ask

We’re officially in communications planning season. Many organizations are reflecting on the  communications and marketing teams’ performance over the year, and creating communications plans for 2020.

Your communications plan shouldn’t just be about meeting key performance indicators (though they’re important). Your communications plan should also help prepare the organization for what’s coming next.

Five questions to consider when you’re creating your organization’s 2020 marketing and communications plan:


1) Are you ready if a crisis occurs?

Crises come in all shapes and forms. Certainly, there’s always the chance of an accident at your workplace, or of your organization being sued. But are you ready if it comes to light that a top leader has been engaging in unethical behavior? Or if a data breach compromises customers’ personal information?

A quality crisis communications plan will give you more peace of mind and a plan of action should a crisis hit. The plan needs to reflect an understanding of your organization’s operations, hierarchy and key audiences as it establishes a protocol for addressing any issue with honesty, clarity and speed.


2) Is your website accessible?

Your organization’s website should be accessible to people with visual impairments. Look for areas of improvement in the design where contrast is low, or if there are areas that are unreadable or unusable when the font is enlarged.

Another area of focus for website accessibility should be your site’s back-end structure, knowing that these modifications come with the added bonus of boosting your search results.

Screen readers and online services like Alexa and Siri need to “read” your website, and changes that you make to the site structure can mean that many more services are able to discover your site.


3) Have your spokespeople been media trained this year?

Your leaders may have done media training in the past, but a refresher is always a good idea. Spokespeople appreciate the additional training, as it makes them feel more comfortable and prepared to complete media interviews – particularly on short notice.

Training should include mock interviews and practice using key messages to answer difficult questions. It’s this practice in delivering succinct and compelling information that make an interview impactful and memorable.


4) How are you staying in touch with your clients or customers?

Getting leads and contact information is the hard part, so staying in touch should be easy. But in reality, staying in touch with prospects and clients can be difficult to do.

E-mail marketing still works, even though you might hear someone say, “But people get so many e-mails … how do we avoid getting lost in the clutter?”

The key is the quality of the content. For companies, consider leading your newsletters with “news you can use” – tips that help recipients in their work and in their everyday lives. For nonprofits, it’s important to tell your organization’s story through the people you help.

Provide the information in a compelling way, and people will open the newsletter and read it. At B2, this approach results in best-in-class open rates and click rates. And here’s the payoff: You will stay top of mind with people who can be helpful to your organization.


5) What is marketing’s role in recruiting?

Remember that you aren’t just marketing to get new business; you should be marketing to potential employees, too. Competition is fierce for top talent, and organizations should use their “owned” channels like their website and social media platforms to passively recruit top candidates.

Smart employers are spending time thinking about how to attract good employees as they work to get more business. Put more than an application form on your website’s Careers section – consider having some employee testimonials, along with key details about your organization’s benefits.

Also, consider that many employees want to know that their employer is giving back to the community, and offers ways for employees to get involved. Then highlight these actions in your e-mail newsletter or on your social channels.