CORPORATE COMMUNICATION & PR 101
(BACK TO BASICS)
By Rod C. Estrera
Issue No. 003 – 09 July 2013
The Four Key Questions In Communication Planning (Part 2)
TO ALL MY AMERICAN & U.S.-BASED FAMILY & FRIENDS, I DO HOPE YOU ALL HAD A FANTASTIC FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION LAST WEEK!
Welcome back! This is now the third issue of my new Blog Series on Basic Public Relations and Corporate Communication lessons, tips and insights for Industry Professionals and interested Non-Practitioners. Feel free to visit and re-visit the first and second issues (01 / 04 July) here on my Blog Site.
As started in our last issue, and to continue until Issue No. 5, we will discuss “The Four Key Questions” that need to be asked and addressed in the preparation of every Communication Plan, be it for PR, Advertising, Marketing, Corporate Communication, Special Events or even for Crisis Communication. Again, these questions, which should serve as the cornerstones of our Communication Research efforts even before an actual Communication Plan is developed, are as follows:
1. Who is my audience?
2. What do I want my audience to do?
3. What perceptions guide their actions?
4. How can I change their actions?
For this issue, we will now tackle the second question: “What do I want my audience to do?” We need to undertake a rather complex process as follows:
· First, we define the desired perception and behavior. This is the “Behavior Modification” aspect of Communication; that is, identifying how we want our audience to change their behavior. Every cause has an objective to achieve, involving achieving changes in people. In this stage, we identify the things that we want to sell to our audience (whether these are tangible products, services, institutions, personalities or even ideas).
· Second, we look at the determinants of behavior. Here, we study competing/competitive behavior – the competitive scenario, the competitors’ edge over us and competitors’ resources to drive their equity. After this, we find out what our audience likes and dislikes about us, vis-à-vis our own efforts to improve their perception of us. We then find out what makes it easy or hard. Intervening factors may include confusion, miscommunication and even our own “corporate will.” Added to this is who approves or disapproves it – is it our internal stakeholders (e.g., management), our market/s, our government stakeholders/regulators, or a combination of the three?
· Third, we make use of the appropriate validating planning tools. This is where we create a “research mix” (the best combination of research techniques) – whether we use straight factual research, surveys and/or focus group discussions (FGD).
Before we proceed to the next steps, here are some important tips to remember whenever we develop communication plans:
· Audience action is what counts. At the end of the day, that is the bottom line (whether we are persuading them to buy a bottle of shampoo, select a particular hair salon, vote for a politician or subscribe to a new ideology).
· What looks simple to us may be complicated to our audience. All of our strategies and messages need to be simple for them to understand and appreciate.
· Make it irresistible for our audience to act. Let’s face it; with all of the competitive “noise” out there, our messages and calls-to-action must stand out, while being convincing and compelling.
· Make the actions seem for their own best interests. From the point of view of any audience, it will always be, “What’s in it for me?” If whatever we offer does not seem beneficial in any way, then we will need to re-evaluate not only our strategies, but perhaps even our product/service/idea itself.
· The harder the campaign, the more comprehensive it must be. This goes without saying. If we are managing the communication efforts of a major, national political campaign, then our strategies and tactics must run the entire gamut of the communication spectrum – from the traditional to today’s complex social media platforms.
Do continue to stay tuned for my next issue in a few days’ time for the Third of “The Four Key Questions” – “What perceptions guide their actions?” Again, I hope these easy-to-remember topics prove to be useful for both my fellow PR/Communication Professionals and our Clients/Bosses.
Thank you once more for your interest. May we all continue to have a great and productive week ahead!