Sunday, February 3, 2008

Toolkit #1 – First Quarter Checklist

Some thoughts for Communications managers, as you move forward in First Quarter 2008:
· No doubt –Objectives of your company or organization must be supported by effective, targeted communications vehicles and programs.
· Promoting the public face of your organization, its network and messages, is necessary in order to accomplish mission and also to bring value to existing and potential constituents – global affiliates, customers, employees, investors, donors or supporters, your board and program partners.
· These are challenging times. A manager is dealing with crunched budgets, rapidly changing media marketplace and noise caused by info overload. There’s the ongoing need to preserve, build upon and communicate brand credibility and value to constituents.

An effective Communications manager can take several steps:

First Steps – Reactive Cleanup of existing Vehicles and Programs by:
1. Clarifying messages of each vehicle to our audiences
2. Refreshing visual impact or structure of each in order to catch attention
3. Increasing productivity and quality of each vehicle
4. Being aware of new platforms and ready to change the communications vehicle portfolio to reflect new opportunities and media
5. Advise and inspire teammates in the process. If you're a one-person shop, make sure you seek support as needed from peers and participation in professional associations.

Long-Term Steps – Strategic Planning, Evaluation and Implementation
1. Run a “strategic” timeline alongside your reactive timeline. Concurrently, start up the following:
· Analysis (needs assessment and competitive research)
· Identification of opportunities (new alliances)
· Organization/clarification of messages
· New program development (proposals)
· Evaluation elements
2. Follow a Communications matrix that helps identify: a) immediate action steps for existing media and programs; and b) long-term communications plans.
· Matrix should outline the project management tool for: Dynamic elements (website, blogs, social network communications presence, focus groups); promotional alliances; print and digital communications media; marketing program collateral; public relations; advertising; research; and legacy-based communications that preserve the culture while embracing the visions of tomorrow.

Commit in the first quarter to a complete effort put forth with discipline, flexibility, quality, creativity and experience. And follow up at your next Board meeting with a thorough update based upon your matrix. Good luck with a successful first quarter.