In my previous article, I discussed how successful Corporate Communication professionals work towards taking charge of the 9 cogs or processes of the communication cycle. Planning is one of the blocks within the ERP (efforts, resources & processes) framework that makes or breaks any communications programme. A powerful monthly plan is a key contributor toward successful communication outputs and business outcomes.
Before I proceed with the 6 pillars of a powerful communication plan, it is imperative to understand the following:
- Planning should be monthly and not restricted to a quarterly cycle. The latter is directional. The advantage of monthly planning is that not only it provides a granularity of how each of the four weeks will be utilised across news & views push and pull but also generates scope for monthly adjustments through targeted vs achieved reconciliation.
- Planning will be weak if it does not fetch inputs from the preceding blocks of listening, benchmarking, and target-setting processes.
- Planning helps not only during BAU (business as usual) months but more importantly during BNAU (business not as usual) which typically are lull months with no news triggers given from the Top Management.
Below are the six pillars or ERPs that need to be balanced for a powerful monthly communication plan:
- Balance of Strong content: The balance of relevant key messages and talk points across all the stakeholders, the story narrative that will carry it and other such related details comprises of content, the first pillar. The core purpose of relevant and strong content is to re-iterate the promise to the targeted stakeholder that answers his or her question – what is in it for me? If the content, key message, and talk points framework are weak, the entire effort of planning the below five pillars becomes redundant.
- Balance of Touchpoints: Which media platforms should our content be visible in? It is a fine balance of a media plan that is the best permutation of print, television, news websites, social media platforms, events, newsletters, reports, etc. As Jeremy Bullmore, the ex-WPP legend, described it, “People build brands, as birds build nests, from the scraps and straws they chance upon”. Media planning becomes a science of balancing across touchpoints.
- Balance of Emotion: Emotion is a strong component that brings engagement. While content builds the foundation, the elements that add emotion are – key messages, use of visuals, tonality, relevant talk points, infographics, etc. On average, more than 70% of a corporate or product brand’s exposure across mediums lacks the emotional component.
- Balance of Reach: The reach aspect is a balance of the following: a) Across how many states have the communication programme appeared? b) How many towns and cities did it penetrate in each state? How many media titles in each city did it hit? This is why, data analysis of aspects like edition multipliers becomes crucial.
- Balance of Frequency: An elementary need to maintain Top-of-Mind in a cluttered marketplace is to keep generating visibility by saying “Main Hoon Na” (“I am there”) every possible week, fortnight, or month. For this, intelligent talk points through news and views need to be generated that can be pushed and sprinkled through multiple touchpoints (point 2 above) as frequently as possible. How frequently one is visible can be a game changer.
- Balance of sustenance: The final pillar that needs balancing is the area of sustenance. This section is about answering the basic question – for how long should a communication programme be visible across mediums? The domain of public relations, through news, views, and a variety of content frameworks, can do wonders with extending & sustaining the period – start and end time – of each news push campaign period. The longer the sustenance period, the better the chances of visibility and recall amongst stakeholder audiences. If the Corporate Communications corridor can think like an ICMC (integrated corporate & marketing communications) expert, this can be another brick in the wall that builds brand recall.
What adds power to any form of Corporate or Marketing communication programme are six pillars – Balance of content, touchpoints, reach, emotion, frequency, and sustenance. Make your ERPs deliver better ROO and ROI.
Make your monthly plan powerful, become powerful!
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