What is the key ingredient for effective communication plans?

target (research)



Without it, your plan is likely to take you in the wrong direction and you’ll miss your target.

What we will cover:

    • Sections of the Strategic Communication Plan
    • Why research is essential
    • What to look for
    • Where to find the info you need
    • What to do with it now that you’ve found it


Sections of the Strategic Communication Plan

1) Research

2) Planning

3) Implementation

4) Evaluation


Why is research essential?

  • It provides valuable insight for planning the campaign.
  • It lends credibility to your Strat Comm process.
  • It positions you as a business partners within an organization.

How does research help with planning?

A: It gives us the answers we need to make informed decisions during the planning process.


Research Questions

To complete the Research section of your plan, find the answers to these:

  • What is overall “problem?” – this helps determine the plan’s goal
  • What needs to change to fix it? – this identifies objectives
  • What will make audience change? – this helps with creation of the theme
  • What does audience care about? What can we claim? What makes us different? – this helps with key messages
  • What are key dates / months? – this helps with timeline
  • How much should we spend? How much can we expect to make? – this helps determine budget


Where do we get answers to those questions?

You’ll use a variety of sources including:

    • Interviews with key informants like leaders, planners, project managers, community members, & customers
    • Reports on financials, customer satisfaction, and business trends
    • Websites on communication planning, competitors, business outlook, & industry trends


What do we do with this info now that we have it?

Categorize & summarize it in your written Strategic Communication Plan.


Components of Research Section of your Strat Comm Plan

Situation Analysis

      • Identify the “problem”
      • Background information
      • Overall summary of key findings

SWOT Analysis

      • Complete this from the perspective of the business you’re going to be advertising
      • Strengths &Weaknesses are internal to the business
      • Opportunities & Threats are external to the business (include business drivers & industry outlook)

The SWOT Analyis almost becomes a summary because it categorizes all the important facts you’ve uncovered during your research.


Target Audience Profile

      • Identify primary & secondary audiences
      • Don’t forget about Centers of Influence – groups that influence the customer’s decision
      • Include demographics (age, gender, education level, income, access to and use of media and Internet, etc.)
      • Include psychographics (preferences, beliefs, misperceptions, behaviors, etc.)

Media / Communication Tool Analysis

      • Identify TV programs, radio stations, magazines, targeted mailings, billboard locations, etc. that are most likely to reach your target audience
      • Include info on readership, circulation, reach, etc.


Now we have the intel we need to begin the Planning component of our Strat Comm Plan.


Planning Section includes:

    • Goal
    • Objectives
    • Theme
    • Key Messages
    • Timeline
    • Budget


Published by Jessica Walter, MS, APR

Speaker, Consultant, and Certified Leadership Coach

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