How To Write A Good Communications Plan – Part 10 – Tactics

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.”
– Peter Drucker

You know your goals; you know what you’re saying; you know who you’re talking to. You need to decide how to say it.

How are you going to reach the audiences you’ve selected?

Staged

It may help if you think of your announcement in three stages – pre-announcement, announcement and post-announcement:

  • Pre-announcement – how will you pre-condition stakeholders/shareholders/consumers/the media ahead of your announcement?
  • Announcement – how will you roll-out the initiative?
  • Post-announcement – how will you sustain coverage after the announcement?

Strategic

Chess pieces Just as all of the other sections of your plan fit together (your analysis flows into your goals and objectives, your stakeholders flow into your audiences, your strategy feeds off your objectives and so on) your tactics need to fit with your strategy.

If you’ve opted for a high-profile, proactive strategy, your tactics should clearly be very different to if you’ve selected a low-profile, reactive approach. Did you decide to communicate through the media, to/through stakeholders or directly to consumers?

Also consider your context and environmental scan – do you need to raise awareness of the topic in the media before you make your announcement?

If you follow the planning process properly, the process itself will help you to do this. By putting your tactics near the end of the process, you force yourself to consider the initiative from every possible angle. That means you’re less likely to default to a (possibly) inappropriate news release and/or media event without thinking it through.

Comprehensive

Make sure you address all of your plan’s audiences. Check and double-check that you aren’t missing an important group.

A particularly useful tip: create a table with your audiences down the left side and your proposed tactics along the top. Check-off which tactics hit which audiences. Make sure you address each audience with two or three tactics.

Tactics vs audiences

If you see that you aren’t addressing all of your key audiences, go back and consider how you can.

Tactical options

Here are a few options to consider for the various stages. Remember that many of these may require their own plans:

  • Story placements – proactive pitching; matte articles
  • Mentions in other announcements/events
  • Media event
  • Regional announcements
  • Speeches
  • Paper products – news release, backgrounder, fact sheet
  • Brochure, flier
  • White paper
  • Follow-up announcements – milestones, results, openings
  • Stakeholder consultations or events
  • Letters to stakeholders
  • Advertising – TV/radio/print/out-of-home/online
  • Social media outreach

How do you go about planning your tactics?

The “Communications Plan” Series

This is post number ten in a series of 13 posts exploring how to create a good communications plan. To read more of the series, check out the other posts here.

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.