Associations work in a special way and using a strategic communications plan can be the tool you need for member growth and success. Many non-profit and not-for-profit associations are driven by its mission, objectives, audiences and what their stakeholders want. The challenge is to create a clear and simple message to target audiences so they can easily relate to its cause and core values.
In order for your plan to work, you need to have the buy-in and acceptance from your key community. This includes, staff, members, industry champions, volunteers, directors and executives. Your strategic communications plan can actually get you more value from your well-integrated network of people.
Organizations can gain a competitive edge using a strategic communications plan.
Cost is one of the main reasons why organizations do not have a strategic communications plan. Yes, there is an upfront investment to create the plan, either in house (using staff time) or to outsource this project to a communications consultant (budget cost). However, you can save considerable staff time and budget through implementing a plan that is well defined with measurement tools in place to validate and track its success.
Are your mission and objectives current and relevant?
Your strategic communications plan can be used to address change. Associations need to adapt to external and internal factors. The types of members you have can change. This can happen through any number of influences ranging from economic, social, environmental, to technological and political factors, and more. You can address whatever changes are happening to your industry, members or organization with the right plan in place. Use this opportunity to update your mission statement to inspire and captivate your audiences.
Enhance your communications tools for better results.
Have you ever had a communications audit performed on your organization? Now might be the time. A communications audit is more than just a nice-to-have report. In today’s business climate, it is now a necessary tool to help you become more effective and efficient in how you communicate with your audiences and stakeholders. It is a way to base your decisions on fact rather than history or status quo.
The communications audit will review all the ways your staff and organization communicate with your audiences. It will reveal whether there is there a common message, if your branding is consistent throughout, and if there might be a missed opportunity or a challenge to address. A comprehensive communications audit informs the strategic communications plan. It’s kind of like a V4 versus V12 cylinder car – the higher number of cylinders, the more power.
3 Top Benefits of a Strategic Communications Plan
- Outline the current stage and positioning of where your organization is and where you want to go
- Better define what information your members want and how they want to receive it
- Identify how you could improve, change or revamp your current process
Why Produce a Strategic Communications Plan for your Organization?
● Define what your association communications will accomplish (to reflect your current objectives)
● Discover untapped opportunities for future communications
● Set priorities to give you and your staff a daily work focus
● Offer you a specific road map for order and control
● Strengthens support from your other executives and board members
● Measure your program results (evaluation)
Building a comprehensive, strategic communications plan can offer you a competitive edge in today’s business climate. Communication planning is an innovative way an association can utilize limited resources efficiently and effectively. Decisions are made unlike business enterprises. Industries change and you need to adapt more quickly to survive. Associations that recognize the value of this document are typically the ones that can find ways to embrace industry challenges or obstacles and turn them into opportunities. When you know where you want to go, and have a map, you can drive directly there.
-Sandra Hamway, marketing strategist and founder of Infuse Five
Infuse Five, based in Ottawa, Canada, is dedicated to helping associations and businesses, across North America and globally. We offer business results through innovative marketing communications strategies without the need to hire a full time senior specialist. Want more smart MarCom tips? Don’t miss a blog post – Subscribe to this feed – and receive blog posts right away into your email inbox.