The point of communicating is to create change.
The goal is to drive change in someone’s thoughts or in what they do. It’s really quite simple, yet communicators often produce muddled, mediocre messaging as a result of forgetting this basic tenet.
Thinking about what you want to change is the best way to start planning any communication effort. That might sound obvious, but many start with their own perspectives and goals (we need to sell more stuff!) instead of considering the needs and preferences of the target audience.
Consider the approach below from Google’s 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 will they do next time?
So far, so simple, but you must consider a wide range of things your audience will think and do. As well as being more specific about the expected outcomes, it also helps to think more broadly about your strategy.
Here are three tips to keep in mind as you create plans for 2018:
- 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 you want the audience to go through, identify what steps or activities you could put in place to streamline the process.
- The journey is a lifetime. A lot of attention goes on the first-time outcomes, but it’s wise to take a longer view. How can you ensure that the audience keeps behaving in a certain way? What if they advocated for you, instead of just being a one-off customer? Keep in mind that the journey of change often takes a lifetime—and craft your communication campaigns accordingly.
- Measurement is life. How can you gauge change or transformation unless you measure it? Measurement is often seen as a troublesome afterthought, but it’s the only way to determine progress. Measurement is also the key to proving your results, which always comes in handy during budget time.
The framework above is useful for measuring the impact of communications and helping clients set KPIs, but it’s also a great starting point for developing communication strategies. Keep in mind the basics of using communication to create change as you plan and prepare for the new year.