Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Communications Planning Process

1. Identify our challenge
2. Research contributing factors
3. Set your goals
4. Formulate your strategy
5. Determine which tactics make the most sense and establish timeline
6. Establish measurements for success
7. Be prepared to try another plan if those measurements prove your tactics aren't working

1. Identify your challenge: what it means to succeed. E.g. expanding donor base, creating credibility for a new or changing organization, credentializing new leadership, attracting new employees / volunteers, reframing your issues so your organization is more effective, growing a critical mass of political will. 

2. The critical thing for comunications is research. You need to research what your existing media profile is. Use clipping or monitoring searches (quantitative media analysis). Interview your staff, board members, anyone else who is getting feedback on your organization. Whenever possible, gathering data from your membership - whether from a survey, comments on website / blog. You should also research any other marketing strategies that exist in your issue area. You should look externally within the area that you work in - i.e. "competitors" (Human Rights Watch taking note of Amnesty International's public persona / communications strategy.) Research what media matters most to your audiences. Going after 16 year-old female high school students vs. potential celebrity spokespeople is completely different. 

Figure out what Resources You Have:
Infrastructure is big: do you have a website, a blog, a t.v. studio? Do you have a 200K mailing list? Do you have a Facebook page? 
Social network is key: do you have relationships with a celebrity, journalist, or other influencer?
Content toolkit can be key: if you provide the story already packaged, it allows people to use your content to bring eyes to their piece of media. E.g. provide a video to Talking Points Memo, rather than make people available for TPM to write a story on. This also gives you the power to control the message. 

3. Set Your Goals:
Be realistic based on the amount of human capital and financial capital you have. Goals are broader than strategy.
  • Achieve media placements
  • clicks on content
  • to reach one particular influencer or decision-maker
  • sign-ups on social media page
  • purchases of your book, DVD, conference registration
  • communication is subordinate and there to serve your organizational goals and mission
  • establish brand recognition
  • bolster organizational awareness among funders
  • demonstrate the superiority of your vision
4. Formulate Your Strategy:
Once you have your goals set. Strategy and tactics are often confused. Strategy is the over-view of what you want to acheive and tactics are the steps your going to take to make that happen. Examples:
  • determine unique position of your organization among all others 
  • develop partnerships by highlighting existing partnership
  • demonstrate value of organization to funders
  • build credibility through organizational materials so that our leaders will be recognized as experts in our field
5. Tactics
Action items. Must be do-able within your existing resources. They are best achieved through brainstorming. Think creatively about how we can serve the strategies we've identified. Include everybody you know. The only rule in brainstorming is to not allow criticism on anything. The tactics that get employed in PR are interesting. You need an interesting visual...unfortunately people like consumer issues (e.g. standing outside Apple store with HIV org branded t-shirt from Monday through Thursday until the first i-Phone is sold). Sometimes you need to figure out a way to bridge the gap to people who are burned out on hearing negative stories. 

Turn ED into go-to person on stories on women. You can build a press center with a clip of the ED answering sample questions. Post media that has already happened. Also improving website and getting involved in social media. 

Execute tactics and measure. Your online newsroom might not getting any hits at all. You might have a celebrity speaking for you and then they get involved in a hideous scandal. 

Many ways of measuring that depend on what you're interested in measuring. Internal communication audits can review what hits are coming through to your website. 


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