The point of communicating is to create change. Change in someone’s thoughts, or in what they do. It’s really very simple.
Thinking about what you want to change is the best way to start planning any communications. That might sound really obvious, but one of the keys to developing more effective strategies is to consider what the change looks like for the actual people that you expect to be impacting, rather than from your own perspective (e.g. ‘we want to sell more stuff’).
There have been a few frameworks developed by experts in the field to help do this. Whilst they are all quite similar, the four areas of the framework below are taken (roughly) from one by Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist Avinash Kaushik.
- SEE: What does the audience see?
- THINK: What do they think because of what they’ve seen?
- DO: What do they do because of what they think?
- REPEAT: What do they do next time?
Again, so far, so simple. But there may well be a huge range of things that your audience will think and do that should be considered within this. As well as being more specific about the expected outcomes, it also helps to think more broadly about the strategy:
- Change is a journey: press releases don’t lead straight to purchases, and simply saying that PR is about brand perceptions is a cop out. Change is a journey that your stakeholders and customers go on – and that journey might have a lot of steps. When you outline the changes that you want the audience to go through, identifying what steps (i.e. activity) that you could put in place to help this happen is much easier.
- The journey is a lifetime: A lot of attention goes on the first-time outcomes – ‘we do X activity, and Y happens’. The last aspect of the framework above is extremely important, and often overlooked – how can you ensure that the audience keeps behaving in a certain way? What about if they advocated for you, instead of just being a one-off?
- Measurement is life: You wanted something to change, you measure whether it did or not. Measurement is often seen as a troublesome afterthought, when it’s really just checking if what you wanted to happen actually happened. If you’ve articulated that well enough it will make identifying what measures will demonstrate that change – and showing what impact you had – much easier to do.
The framework above is a very common one we use at Madano to guide measuring the impact of communications and helping clients set KPIs – but it’s a great starting point for developing communications strategies too.