Planning a communication campaign

When we think about communication, we often make the mistake of thinking about it as a single moment in time. We’ve got something coming up, we work out what we’re going to say, we do it, hopefully it goes well, and then we move on. 

The thing about this is that it means we’re not shaping the currents, we’re just being pulled along by them, forming our communication strategy, perhaps even our business strategy, on the fly. Basically we’re winging it.

Instead, having a campaign mentality means that we get to shape the conversation not just respond to it. So what does it mean to have a campaign mentality?

It means having clear goals, it means thinking longer-term because it is sustained over time, it means thinking about different audiences, it means thinking about different channels of communication, and it means connecting all those strands to a core set of ideas and a unifying purpose.

Here are six questions you might ask yourself as you develop a campaign. And if you’d like to link directly to the video, please click on the link here.

  1. What am I trying to achieve? What are my goals for the near, medium and long-term. How will I know I’ve achieved them? What can I measure along the way? What are the potential barriers to my being successful? What are the things that are most going to help me?

  2. Who are the people I am trying to reach with my campaign? Here you might use the advertising planner’s approach of building up a set of personae by segmenting the market  by demographics (for example, their seniority or experience level, the type of role they have), by psychographics (their values and beliefs, their interests, their personality, their lifestyle, their culture), by behavioural patterns (e.g. how they like to learn and access information, how they make decisions), and by geographic factors.

  3. Are they on side with what I want to achieve? In other words, who are my supporters, my sponsors, my champions – people who I know can be relied on to support what I want to talk about? And on the other side, where are my blockers, my cynics, my opponents, the people who might drill a hole in the bottom of my proverbial boat as I try to get something done? And finally, but arguably most crucially, where are my agnostics, the fence-sitters who are as yet undecided but who might significantly shape the outcome when push comes to shove?

  4. What is my strategy for these different audience groups? Considering my audience groups, what do I need to do to tailor my communication so it lands with them? With my sponsors, how can I keep them on side and to harness their influence and their networks? How can I reduce the damage my blockers? Don’t spend too long on this final group, as your time will be much better spent getting people off the fence.

  5. What are the ways for me to reach them? Now it is time to to move to the more tactical side of things. Start by looking through your diary and noting down things that are already scheduled as touch-points, or at least moments that could be adapted accordingly. Then do a gap analysis – who are the audiences where there are currently no planned conversations? Then consider the broad range of ways you, or your champions, might reach all your audiences.

  6. How can I keep myself on track? Finally, we need to think about sustaining the whole thing, rather than adding to the litter of good intentions that have ended and died. If you’ve got a coach or a mentor, then they can help keep you on track – as can your team or your buddy. The important thing is to keep your plans realistic, pitched at the right level (as every plan fails after first contact with the enemy) and to track progress as you go along.