Having a communications plan in place for the upcoming year brings a sense of relief to an overworked outreach specialist. Though it requires an investment of time upfront, the payback over the coming year will be vital for success. A communications plan is a written document that includes (at a minimum):
- Who you will reach (target audiences)
- How you will reach them (outreach materials/methods)
- When you will reach them (timeline)
- How you will measure your success (evaluation)
The more time you invest, the more robust and useful your plan will be. However, any investment you make to prepare for the future will pay you back three-fold. Even 4 or 5 hours of time will be worth every minute. We have compiled a few tips for preparing your simple communications plan this year:
- Block Out Time on Your Calendar
A communications plan sets you up for success, so treat it like an important task that cannot be rescheduled. The more serious you take the task now, the more useful your plan will be in the coming year.
- Forget About the General Public
Determining a specific target audience leads to successful outreach. General outreach to everyone reaches very few. When you defining who you will reach, break up your general public into smaller audiences such as pet owners, automotive business or landscapers. Who you do really want or need to see change their behavior this year?
- Choose 2 or 3 Target Audiences
Having an endless list of target audiences is overwhelming for anyone. We all want to see EVERYONE change their behavior this year, right? Be realistic, choose 2 to 3 target audiences this year to focus on. Next year you can tackle a few more.
- Write Measurable Objectives
With each target audience you have chosen, write at least one measurable objective. All measurable objectives should also include a timeline. What you measure will depend on your overall goals. If your goals are broad, your objectives should be broad too. For example, if your overall goal is to “educate automotive shop employees” a broad objective would be “deliver new automotive shop poster to 75% of the automotive shops in town by June 30”. If your goals are more specific, such as “reduce amount of automotive fluids entering storm drains”, a more specific objective might be “increase the compliance rate of BMP “X” by 50% before October 31”.
- Make a Cover Page and Print It Out
With all the emails, Word documents and Excel files that we encounter daily, it is important to keep your communications plan front and center. As an employee and professional, choosing to invest your time for future success was a great one, so don’t let it be forgotten! Give it a nice cover with a title, and print it out. Keep it on your desk or hang it in a location where you will see it every day.