by Emily Gilbride
“The role of a PR is similar to a stagehand – we are behind the scenes moving things along from one scene to the next, cueing in the stars of the show, our clients, watching that important details to the story are delivered, and of course – to make sure it’s all right on the night.” – Catriona Mackenzie, Senior Account Manager.
Strategic communications planning is the foundation for successful public relations activities.
At Hot Tin Roof we believe every good strategy begins with a plan. Just like you would develop a business plan that serves as a roadmap for what your organisation would like to achieve and how to beat those goals, a strategic communications plan can help your organisation maintain positive relationships externally and internally.
We asked our team what strategic communications means to them.
Developing a strategy
Every organisation’s mission and vision will uniquely inform the targets and objectives of communications strategies.
One common pitfall we avoid is confusing objectives with strategies when formulating a plan. Objectives are results-oriented and strategies are action-oriented. See the objectives as signposts that can inform the action taken to meet them. An example could be “Increase social media engagement on Twitter and LinkedIn by 10%.”
Senior Account Manager Steven Herd says Hot Tin Roof’s clients have seen their campaigns succeed due to our “rock solid strategy”. We hold regular communications workshops with our clients old and new to ensure that campaigns are focused on achieving their PR objectives. He adds: “nothing we do is wasted and everything links back to what our clients want to achieve”.
We provide guidance and ensure clients are on the right path to meeting their communications goals. Steven says: “we share our knowledge and recommendations on delivering the real meat and bones of a successful campaign.”
Our comprehensive workshops help us identify what it is our clients want to achieve – both now and in the future. They include defining how a business is perceived by its stakeholders, understanding a business’s priorities, conducting competitor analysis, and identifying the audiences it wants to speak to. This allows Hot Tin Roof to tailor a campaign that uses the right PR tactics and key messages to ensure we deliver.
Creating and placing key messages
Messages are important as they help everyone in your organisation stay consistent and on the same page when attending events or developing materials. They act as an instruction manual, a checklist: you’ll be dipping into your messages and using them to mould the rest of your communications.
When thinking about your messages and to make them as effective as possible we recommend aligning them to support the awareness or change of attitudes you are hoping to see.
Catriona Mackenzie, Senior Account Manager, stresses the importance of timing when placing messages: “The right timing can lead to great things, and the wrong timing can mean months of work falls flat.” Considering both the news agenda’s timing but also the timing for your business, key stakeholders and staff means the messages you wish to convey to them are more impactful. From a PR perspective we don’t want odd gaps of time between announcements that are all interlinked as part of a wider business strategy, so we need to be conscious of longer term goals and how each story ties into that longer narrative.
Cat emphasises: “We want our client’s announcements to be part of a momentum of news for them, so that interest is sustained, and relevant to their own bigger picture.”
Steven adds: “Our address book and strong ties with the media are legendary. Journalists take our calls. The energy with which we tackle every campaign is the secret of our success.”
A communications strategy is the North Star that acts as a guide for your overall PR efforts and identifies your priority communications goals, the audiences you wish to talk to and how to implement your comms strategy.
- It keeps you focused.
- It provides structure.
- It coordinates messages.
Hot Tin Roof can guide you from the first step of developing a strategy to the final step – delivering results.
Interested in bringing the strategic communications planning process to your organisation?
Send us a note and let us know how we can help.