You and your team wrote a comprehensive communications plan, but now that it's in place, you're unsure if it's effective. What should you do?
A communications plan is a great start; if you have one in place, you're ahead of many peer organizations.
But maybe you're not quite sure that your communications efforts are effective. In that case, you can also review your communications plan as part of your communications audit.
Communications audits provide findings and recommendations for an array of activities of a communications office - from the approval process of collateral to the overall plan.
Let's look at how we can review and analyze a communications plan as part of a communications audit.
Review Your Organization's Communication Goals
Every communications plan should start with an organization's goals. The goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This framework, often called the SMART goals framework, provides a solid foundation for developing a strong and effective communications plan.
The plan becomes more focused and purposeful by aligning the communication objectives with the organization's overall goals.
By starting the communications plan with well-defined SMART goals, organizations can focus their efforts, track progress more effectively, and ensure that their communication activities contribute directly to achieving broader organizational objectives.
Match Your Organization's Audiences with the Communication Goals
Each communications plan should match goals with audiences that they need to achieve their goals. This ensures that the messages and strategies used in the communications plan are tailored to the specific needs and interests of the target audience, increasing the likelihood of successfully achieving the desired goals.
By identifying the specific audiences that need to be reached, the communications plan can prioritize and allocate resources effectively, ensuring that the right messages are delivered to the right people at the right time.
A targeted approach increases the chances of engaging and persuading the audience to take the desired actions, whether purchasing a product, supporting a cause, or adopting a new behavior. Moreover, aligning goals with audiences helps measure the communications plan's success by tracking the targeted audience's responses and actions.
A strategic match between goals and audiences is fundamental for an effective communications plan that drives the desired outcomes.
Develop Messages and Talking Points that Resonate with Your Audiences
Once the goals and target audiences have been identified, the next step is to review the messages being used in the communications plan. It is important to ensure that the messages are consistent, clear, and aligned with the organization's goals and target audiences.
Review Communications Channels
In addition, you should evaluate the channels used to deliver the messages, including social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn), email newsletters, press releases, website announcements, or even traditional media (e.g., television, radio, print). Each channel should match the goals, audience, and message. You need to make sure you're delivering the right message, on the right channel, to the right audience.
Update Tactics and Communications Calendar
The communications calendar should also be reviewed to ensure that the timing of communication activities is appropriate and aligned with the organization's goals and target audiences. You should evaluate the frequency of communication and whether it is consistent and strategic.
Metrics for a Communications Plan Effectiveness
Lastly, measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of the communications plan is crucial during a communications audit. This can be done through various methods such as surveys, feedback forms, analytics data, and interviews.
Here are some metrics to review when you're evaluating your communications plan:
Reach: How many people were exposed to the communication? This can be measured through website traffic, social media impressions, viewership, or email open rates.
Engagement: How many people actively interacted with the communication? This can be measured through likes, comments, shares, or click-through rates.
Conversion: Did the communication successfully lead to the desired action or behavior change? This can be measured through conversion rates, such as the number of people who signed up for a newsletter or reached out to an elected official after receiving a communication.
Perception: Did the communication effectively convey the desired message and impact the audience's perception of the organization? You can measure this through surveys or focus groups to gather feedback and insights.
By reviewing and evaluating these aspects of the communications plan, organizations can identify areas for improvement and make adjustments to better meet their goals and engage with their target audiences.