(This is the 42nd in a continuing series on strategic communications. Click here for earlier segments)
By Owen Eagan, The Saint Consulting Group
In our last segment on the Communications Strategy Map (Strategic Communications Part 41: Using a Communications Strategy Map http://bit.ly/ITibf7), we discussed the need for your goals to include benchmarks to measure your results. To illustrate the process of developing a communications strategy we used the example of building a company’s brand through thought leadership, which we identified as our objective.
Next, we determined that our purpose would be targeting specific audiences with relevant content. For our strategy, we suggested utilizing one of a company’s subject matter experts to host educational events through multi-media channels for current and prospective clients. We then said that the methods or tactics could include a webinar on a topical issue that the company’s clients and prospective clients have been trying to navigate.
This leads us to establishing our goals. In setting your goals, it is helpful to use a framework borrowed from other business disciplines such as organizational behavior called the SMART Goals model. SMART is an acronym which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
Specific means making sure your goals have clarity. This involves not only articulating them well but ensuring that they are communicated to your team. Measurable refers to identifying appropriate metrics. These metrics could be those that you identify based on either your own previous experience or industry standards. Achievable ensures that your goals are challenging but realistic. This means examining whether you have the necessary resources and capabilities (e.g., staff, infrastructure, suppliers, budget, etc.). Relevant requires your goals to be consistent with your other goals and overall objective. This ensures alignment among the elements of your strategy. And time-bound entails developing a timeline to keep your goals on track. This is critical for meeting your benchmarks and should involve pulse meetings with your team.
Returning to our example, your goals could include different aspects of the development and execution of the webinar from early-stage planning such as message development to post-event activities such as customer surveys. When used in tandem with the Communications Strategy Map, the SMART Goals model, presented in Exhibit 1 below, will help you meet your objective no matter which strategy you choose to employ.
Owen Eagan is a Senior Consultant for Saint Consulting, an international management consulting firm specializing in land use politics. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Emerson College, the nation’s only four-year institution dedicated exclusively to communication and the performing arts. Email Eagan@tscg.biz