Developing a Communications Strategy

I attended a Communications Strategy and Planning seminar a couple of weeks ago where Joe Barrell from Eden Stanley spoke about developing a communications strategy for a non-profit. Joe is working with CharityComms to put together a Best Practice guide that will not only define what a communications strategy is but will also set out how to go about developing one.

My experience of working in small charities, and speaking to people in my Sole Comms group, is that not only do we often lack the time and resources to put into place a communications strategy, but often we lack the skills too so I am really pleased that this guide will go beyond just the theory.

You can read my Storify of the seminar here, which also included a presentation from Emma Harrison, Director of External Relations at Mencap, who presented ‘Towards an Integrated Approach at Mencap.’

Here are the five things I took away:

1. Keep it simple – your communications strategy should be clear, concise and memorable. It needs to say who you are communicating with, through which channels, what your message is and what you want your audience to think, feel or do about it.

2. Define your audiences – you cannot develop a communications strategy if you don’t know who you are talking to. Spend some time working on your audience persona’s and don’t generalise. The charities who communicate successfully are the ones who truly know their audiences and who build their strategy around audiences, not channels.

3. Get your messaging right – once you have defined your audiences, break down your objectives into relevant messages for each of those audiences. Tone of voice and style may change for each audience but your messaging should always have continuity and link back to core organisational objectives.

4. Define your channels – which channels (email, social media, PR etc) will be the most effective in reaching your defined audiences? There will probably be several for each audience type.

5. Measure and evaluate– make sure your objectives are measurable and define the tools that you will use to evaluate your success.

Helpful resources:

Developing a Communications Strategy by Knowhow NonProfit

Mission Critical: Crafting your Communications Strategy by CharityComms

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