From Story to Strategy.

From story to strategy: what to consider in preparing your communications plan

Your organisation has got something to talk about.

You might have a young and growing company, ready to introduce more clients to your game-changing solutions. You might be launching a new product or service, or taking the leap into an unfamiliar marketplace. You might have a major partnership to discuss or a good cause to get behind. 

Whatever it is you need to say, getting your voice out there is only part of the challenge. The media ecosystem is big, crowded and noisy, and it takes clarity and precision to cut through. 

The right communications strategy is essential to your success: creating a path that leads your message to the people who need to hear it. Every company and campaign will have different needs but there are a few factors to consider before getting started.  

 

Establishing narrative

Any good communications strategy begins with a good story. 

And a good story helps to answer some fundamental questions. Who are you? What do you do? What problems can you solve and how? Why does it matter?

In business communications, it catalyses the connection with your target audience – who can more easily grasp your value to them – and can help define your USP. 

So the strategy planning period is a good chance to sharpen your organisation’s story further. 

 

Setting goals

A communications strategy is a framework for delivering success, so you have to begin with a firm understanding of what success would mean. 

Much of that will depend on the needs of your business or organisation. You may want to cast your net wide and build top-line brand awareness, educate potential customers about new products and services, or target very specific segments of your audience to convert awareness into action. 

And you need to be just as clear on your aims for a shorter-term campaign or a partnership. 

Outlining these expectations will make it easier to choose the right activities, eliminate distractions and channel resources in the right direction. It will also help you to work out what to measure when assessing the effectiveness of your approach. 

 

Identifying audiences

Whatever its ambitions, any communications strategy is going to be addressing certain audiences above others. 

Those could be existing or prospective customers, or industry leaders and CEOs. They could be the decision-makers who will commit to paying for your product, or potential champions who will speak to your credibility and innovative thinking.  

In sport and entertainment, you might need to consider multiple audiences at the same time. As a sponsor, for example, you may be making a B2B play but you will need to recognise your partner’s need – as a rights holder, team or promoter – to demonstrate value to their fanbase. Or you might be directly supporting a community or initiative in sport or culture in a way that communicates your core values back to your primary commercial audience. 

 

Finding the right channels

Once you have a strong sense of your audience, you can develop plans for where to reach them. 

When it comes to media distribution, there are a few layers to bear in mind. Budgets and in-house resources will also affect your capacity to produce and target content. 

Internal channels like newsletters and social media can be a profitable route to an engaged audience, while the right value-adding content can also grow the reach of those outlets. 

Building and leveraging relationships with third-party media is often critical. You will need to identify the right outlets for your communications aims – across generalist, specialist and trade media, as well as the influencer space and other independent voices – and have a keen sense of what is newsworthy or important to their communities.  

And if the money is there, paid media can be a powerful tool: media partnerships, advertising, and boosts or targeted posts on social platforms will amplify your message with careful planning. 

 

Maximising assets

With so many organisations vying for attention, it pays to be able to make a distinctive, compelling and purposeful impression. 

As well as crafting an effective message, it is worth thinking about who can best convey it and how you can give additional value to the audience receiving it. 

Your organisation may have access to unique data and insights that attract prospective audiences and generate coverage. You may have great existing partnerships that can take your brand into the places it needs to go. Or you may have charismatic and well-informed leaders and specialists, who are outstanding candidates for interview in features, podcasts, broadcasts and events, or have an exceptional ability to provide context on breaking news.

 

Setting clear plans

After the planning, comes the doing. To properly execute any communications strategy, your team and partners will need to understand who is responsible for what and when.  

It is vital to have key information lined up before launch, such as timelines, dates, budgets, internal channels, and accountability structures. 

And you need mechanisms in place to make changes when things aren’t working. To adapt a line from Mike Tyson, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth, but not everyone has to head straight to the canvas.

 

Refining and reacting

A live communications strategy should be just that: alive. 

The best strategies leave room to respond to fresh challenges and opportunities – from issues within the business or marketplace to a sudden opening for coverage or interviews. 

And they also offer something to build from. It is always important to absorb feedback wherever you find it – from audiences, clients, partners and the media – and work that back into even more effective communications in the future.

 

Trippant champions people and storytelling to grow businesses across sport, entertainment and experience. If you want to see what we can do for you, connect with us here.

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