Last week I went to see a production of The Wizard of Oz that was very slick, probably because the cast had rehearsed the show again and again to make their hard work look very easy. This can also apply to communication, especially the production of marketing and promotional materials.
Some people are natural writers with the ability to jot down text almost without thinking, while others can stand up in front of hundreds of people and deliver an informative and entertaining off-the-cuff presentation, but many people probably can’t do either or lack the confidence to try. That’s where planning and preparation come in. While tight deadlines can aid creativity to some extent, they can also result in slapdash presentation full of errors when there really isn’t enough time to do a job properly.
Focusing on deadlines and schedules enables you to manage communications more effectively.
Deadlines vary from hours and days for the internet to weeks and months for magazines and up to a year for annual directories. What’s important is to find out what the deadlines are for relevant publications, to put the dates in your diary and to schedule your activity so you get everything done in time.
Creating a communication or marketing plan is useful because you can see from it in an instant when a specific trade journal is published or an event takes place and what the deadline is if you want your contribution included. It’s easy to forget deadlines when you’re busy with other aspects of business, only to remember when the magazine drops on to your desk without the article or advert you wanted in it.
Planning also enables your communications to continue when you are busy.
It can also prevent a stop-go pattern from developing when you don’t have much time to keep your communications flowing. Many activities, such as blogging, web sites, articles and PR, can actually be more effective when you do a little on a regular basis rather than leaving large intervals when you do nothing.
What should I include in my plan?
The planning process should raise important questions, such as: What do I want to achieve for my business? What activities will achieve these objectives? When do I need to do them? Are they working? Your business objectives should suggest some of the answers and, if you’re not clear about them, it’s worth spending time considering precisely what you want to achieve.
A communications plan can be as simple or as complex as you choose. A single side of A4 text is better than no plan at all. A spreadsheet or schedule linked to an automated diary or customer relationship management system sounds ideal, but only if you have the time to use it properly. Whatever you choose must work for you and it’s a waste of time to prepare a vast plan if you don’t have time to put it into action.
Knowing what activities to choose can be difficult and we will examine many of the options available in the coming days and weeks. What is important is to start thinking about what you want, what you need to do and how you will do it. This puts you firmly in control of your communications and enables you to start thinking about how you approach the actual activities.
Just thinking about your communications will help you to start planning and preparing them effectively.