With our expertise and experiences in PR & communication, SMI and Vietheart Communication have collaborated to provide services for consulting, designing and implementing communication strategies, events management for Governmental departments, international and local companies, NGOs. Especially, as a social enterprise, we offer free or low-cost services for other social enterprises. Clients can read a template and communication strategy in reality as follows:  

Communications Strategy Template

Executive summary

This is a brief description of the key elements of the strategy. Summarise the issue, project or event and the role the strategy will play. The purpose of the Executive Summary is give the reader a general understanding of what the strategy is trying to achieve without having to delve into the detail of the document.

Include the following things in your Executive Summary:

  • The problem or opportunity that forms the need for the plan and its effect on DVC/Business Unit;
  • Any research on which the plan is based;
  • What you expect the plan will achieve;
  • How the plan will be implemented and its timeframe; and,
  • How the plan will be evaluated.

Context/Background

This section is designed to give the reader a snapshot of the context in which the strategy was developed, and why there is a need for the plan. It should detail why the communications strategy is needed and any relevant policies or issues. It should also touch on any potential communications challenges. It is vital that this section include a discussion on DVC’s or the Business Unit’s mission, vision and values, as these elements should find their way into the communications strategy.

Some examples of things or events that may be shaping your current situation include:

  • Loss of funding or new funding for a project;
  • Changes in program or service delivery; and,
  • The introduction of new legislation.

Include the following things in your background section: 

  • A bullet point list of major events leading up to this moment – those things that have determined the need for a plan; and,
  • DVC/Business Unit Mission, Vision and Values – the communications strategy should be aligned to this.

Research

This section is crucial. It relates to any community consultation, previous strategies, informal and formal research, data, and the like. Draw out of this information relevant conclusions that describe why we are taking the suggested strategic approach.

This research should also feed into your evaluation criteria.

For example, if lack of awareness of a particular issue or project amongst a certain target audience is deemed an issue through research, then one objective should be to raise awareness of the project within that identified group. Where possible, use the research to establish current benchmarks of awareness so that changes can be measured. All tactics should be designed to achieve this increase in awareness, and then the evaluation should demonstrate by how much that awareness was raised. 

SWOT (if applicable), or a situation analysis

This analysis is the heart of any strategic communications plan. A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis or a simple identification of the core strengths and weaknesses of the issue, project or event is mandatory. Developing this section will help you clarify potential problems that need to be dealt with under issues management. This in turn will flow in to your objectives and strategic tactics. The same applies to identified strengths and opportunities. 

However, you must look deeper than the facts or effects to practice strategic communication. While these will lead you to a list of tactics to counter items that need attention, they alone do not allow for a strategic focus. In other words, look at the cause. Until you treat the cause you will continually deal with the effects. Once you determine the cause, you can strategically deal with the effects. 

The SWOT analysis allows you to get to the heart of a problem or opportunity and recognise the real issue. 

Case study sample 

A perception among both internal and external stakeholders in the ABC Company has a pollution problem. This had led to boycotting, excessive turnover in key jobs, generally low productivity, poor morale and lawsuits in the local community.

ABC Company has just installed the most sophisticated pollution control equipment in the industry. Prior to its installation, the company did have a pollution problem.

  • The local community is unaware of the new equipment and the company’s efforts to be a good environmental citizen.
  • There is no formal communication program at the company.

Question: What is the issue in this example? Is it boycotting, excessive turnover in key jobs, generally low productivity, poor morale and lawsuits, or is it the perceived pollution problem?

Answer: It’s the perceived pollution problem. If the communications plan addressed the effects, it would not deal with the cause. Deal with the cause and the effects, such as boycotts, will be easier to manage.

Issues management

This section deals with the significant issues identified through the SWOT analysis. It is here that those issues be clearly spelt out or summarised. The tactics and strategies to deal with these will be detailed later in the plan. 

Target audiences/key stakeholders

These are the people who have some link to DVC or the Business Unit, both internal and external. You must list these groups/individuals in order of importance and break these down into the smallest segment possible. If you group everyone together as the “general public”, you will not be able to define to particular issues or communication blockages that apply to specific groups. For example, if you are trying to communicate a change in service delivery and your target audience is defined as general public, then it doesn’t take into account internal stakeholders, ethic groups, people living in regional areas, young people, vision impaired, etc. All of these have different ways of accessing information and different information needs.

You can segment people and groups into many categories. However, it may be helpful to limit yourself to the following:

  • Organisational membership – accredited members, peak bodies, statutory bodies, etc;
  • Geographically – people who live within a certain radius of a service, events, etc, employees, regional Victorians, metro Victorians, etc; and,
  • Demographically – defined by age group, employment status, ethnic group, gender, people who attend art or sports events, etc.

Include the following in this section:

  • Specific description and location of each public; and,
  • Realistic breakdowns of the publics.

Key messages

In this section you list a one or two sentence message you want to communicate to each target public. This information will flow through from your SWOT, issues management and target audience sections. Where possible, include ways in which you can listen to these target audiences as well as providing messages for them.

Relating back to our case study about ABC Company, some sample key stakeholder messages may be:

Audience: Supervisors in the plant where there is the perceived pollution problem.

Message: We’ve cleaned up our act. Believe it and help your staff understand our efforts.

Budget (if known)

Not much needs to be said here apart from the obvious. If you don’t know what your Budget is, you will be unable to develop suitable goals and objectives that will provide some suitable outcomes. For example, if one of your objectives is to inform all of Victoria about a change in legislation and your Budget is $10,000, your communications plan won’t go very far.

Goal/s

The goals are the overarching outcomes you are hoping to achieve through this communication plan. Generally there is just one goal, but for more complex strategies and projects there may be two or three goals.

Again using our case study, the overarching goal may be:

To improve ABC Company’s environmental image.

The goal is what you expect to see once the communication strategy has been completely implemented.

Objectives

Objectives need to be timely and measurable. They need to feed directly into the achievement of the stated goal. Objectives, while more detailed than goals, are still relatively high level and will allow you to segment your related activities and tactics more easily.

The format of an objective is always the same. Using our case study as an example, some objectives may be:

To increase awareness of ABC Company’s new pollution control equipment amongst plant supervisors by 25% by August 31, 2004.

To increase awareness of ABC Company’s new pollution control equipment amongst employees by 55% by October 31, 2004.

The red text is measurable

You will be able to set measures based upon previous research. For example in our case study, research showed that only two out of 10 supervisors were aware of the new pollution control equipment and that just five of the 120 employees were aware.

The blue text is timely

Setting a by when date is vital, as this will allow you to measure the plan and give management an idea of when they can start seeing results. Remember that if one objective flows off another (as in this example where awareness amongst supervisors needs to be raised before employees) do not have the same finish date.

Under one goal there can be up to 10 objectives, although this is not recommended. Set no more than six objectives. If you find you are going beyond this, perhaps your objectives are moving more towards tactics.

In general, objectives should be limited to:

  • To increase awareness;
  • To successfully launch;
  • To improve morale; and,
  • To improve the image, branding or profile.

Tactics/Tools

The tactics/tools are the details. In many communication plans, tactics/tools will be dressed up as objectives. An example of this could be:

To produce a booklet for regional young people that outlines services available to them.

If you find yourself in the position of trying to define what an objective is and what is a tactic, ask yourself what the above is trying to achieve. If your answer is “to raise awareness”, then this is a tactic that would feed into an objective specifically aimed at raising awareness. For example:

To raise awareness amongst young people in regional Victoria about the range of service available to them by October 31, 2004.

The tactics/tools to deliver that outcome may then be:

To produce a booklet

To hold a media launch

To produce media releases

Etc

In this section you should go into as much detail as possible about each of the tactics, but remember to list them under each relevant objective. Always refer back to your key message section to ensure you are developing the right objectives and tactics to address your target audiences.

Evaluation

In most communications strategies the evaluation section is overlooked or quite limited. However, it is one of the most vital aspects, because it:

  • Allows you to measure whether you have been successful;
  • Will provide input into future campaigns; and,
  • Will provide justification for your existence.

There are many ways to evaluate, and sometimes you may be limited by budget. But when you set measurable objectives, make sure they can actually be measured at the end. There’s no point measuring an increase in awareness of there is no base research or no plan to re-survey that group of employees to measure awareness at the end of the campaign.

Some types of evaluation include (there are many others):

  • Media clips;
  • Number of phone calls, applications, etc;
  • Surveys,
  • Focus groups;
  • Interviews;
  • Communication audit;
  • Newspaper space versus advertising rate;
  • Readership surveys; and,
  • Usability testing.

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ABC’s Communication Strategy

(2010-2011)

 

Table of contents

 

1.     Current Situation /Background

 

Review 2009’s communication strategy

ABC’s communication plan was kicked off in 2009 with a wide range of activities, including:

-         Printing leaflets for ABC company;

-         Organizing a press conference to train reporters on Social Marketing;

-         Press release upon important event;

-         Making films and advertising on TV via news, reports,…

-         Advertising on newspapers;

-         Starting to design a website with a forum for discussion;

-         Building up the first library on Social Marketing in Vietnam;

So far, ABC has communicated the concept “Social Marketing” to public. Partners and other stakeholders involved have been updated with information about ABC’s activities and Social Marketing in Vietnam. However, there are still some problems:

-         Lack of a professional and consistent communication strategy;

-         Misunderstanding about Social Social Marketing from community;

-         Not segmenting audience and indentifying the right segment to focus on;

-         Not touching policy-makers.

 

2.     Overall Programme Objectives

 

2.1           To select and provide support to social enterprises at early stages of development (start-up and take-off levels)

2.2           To build the capacity of local trainers and advisors as well as other stakeholders to promote and support social enterprises in Vietnam

2.3           To raise public awareness on social entrepreneurship and social marketing;

 

3.      Communications Objectives

 

3.1           Disseminate information about “Social Marketing” to target groups.

3.2           Raising public awareness about Social Entrepreneurship and Social Marketing.

3.3           Drawing attention of policy-makers for advocacy.

 

 

4.     SWOT analysis

4.1           Strength

-          Being the first organization in Vietnam to work on Social Marketing;

-          Blended knowledge of ABC's team and networks;

-          A new approach to social issues: entrepreneurial principles and skills;

4.2           Weakness

-          Unsustainable financial resourses;

-          New social enterprises.

4.3           Opportunity

-          Social issues are of high warning in Vietnam;

-          Supports from the Government, enterprises and community;

-          Traditional approaches to social issues turn out to be of low result.

4.4           Threat

-          Low awareness of Social Marketing in Vietnam;

-          A few number of Social Enterprises in Vietnam;

 

5.     Target Audience 

 

Define and Segment target audiences of our Programme

Target audience of ABC’s communication strategy is divided into different segments so that ABC can build up a specific campaign for each segment with relevant tools and suitable frequence. Based on our work plan for 2010, we can identify target groups as follows:

5.1           Public

As Social Marketing deal with social issues, it is essential to raise public awareness about Social Marketing. This target group also covers ABC’s partners, mass media, local trainers, consultants, university lecturers and students, etc.

We need to make them understand the definition of “Social Marketing”, the role of Social Enterprises, what and how they contribute to the development of our society.

In Vietnam, we should insist on Social Marketing as a new approach that stands out from traditional ones, which appear to be of low result. Particularly, real cases in Vietnam and from the outside world should be referred to and updated continuously.

 

5.2           Social Enterprises

Apart from supported Social Enterprises, other current Social Enterprises and potential ones make up the second target group of ABC’s communication strategy. It is of great importance to spread information about ABC and Social Marketing to as many of them as possible.

To some extent, the role of ABC should be highlighted as a long-term partner in terms of not only seed money, but also legal support, advocacy, communication and networkings. SEs should be updated with relevant information about donors, partners, fund-raising, new markets, innovative solutions, legal documents, …

 

  1. Key Message per Target Group

 

With each target group, ABC focuses its information flow on certain issues based on a common message is developed for the 2-year communication strategy:

 

“Social Marketing, a new solution to creating a prosperous and sustainable developing country of Vietnam”

 

No

Target group

Information

1

Public

Understanding about social marketing as an outstanding solution to addressing social issues;

Real cases about Social Enterprises and their contribution to Vietnam and other countries;

2

Social Enterprises

Conceptual skills and practice to develop a social enterprise;

Relevant partners, networks, markets, sponsors, donors and other resources.

 

 

  1. Communications Mix

 

A variety of communication tools will be used to ensure the right message reaching the right target group.

7.1           Press

-         Press conference: timely conferences for reporters upon topics about Social Marketing

-         Press release: upon noticeable events, including:

-         Press articles: about ABC and Social Marketing

 

7.2           Online

-         Website + Viral Marketing

-         Multimedia: video youtube, e-cards...etc.

-         E-mail newsletters

+ ABC’s monthly newsletter – a monthly newsletter that connects target groups to ABC’s inspiring stories and community (announcements, up-coming events, social products & services,…)

+ ABC Update – timely news and annoucements from ABC

 

7.3           TV + Videos

-         News and features

-         Films (about ABA, Social Marketing, Social Products,...)

 

7.4           Print

-         Leaflets ABC

-         Leaflets Social Marketing

-         Banner, backdrop (for events)

 

7.5           Public Relations

-         Event/Stunt (02 networking galas in 2010 and 02 in 2011)

-         Conferences

 

Matrix of target groups and means to reach them with estimated budget for each activity

         Means

 

 

Target group

Press Conference

Press Release

Press Articles

Website 

Twitter

Facebook

Youtube, Tamtay

ABC’s Newsletter

TV, videos

Print: leaflet , leaflet SM

Networking Events

SM Club

SM Library

1.Public

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

Local trainers & Consultants

 

 

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

Mass media

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

 

 

 

Partners

 

 

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

 

 

x

Students,…

 

 

x

x

x

x

x

 

x

x

 

 

x

2.Social Enterprises

 

 

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

 

x

x

x

Budget (1,000USD)

2

2,04

0

0

3

1,5

11

1

1,6

 

 

 

  1. Budget

 

Items

Unit cost

Persons

Day/time

Total cost

Act 11 - Mass media

 

 

 

5,000

Act 12 - SM Award for student

 

 

 

10,000

Act 13 - ABC's website and IEC material

 

 

 

2,072

13.1 Website

 

 

 

1,272

Part-time staff to maintain the website and support communication

1

1 year

1,260

Hiring domain:

1

12

13.2 IEC material

 

 

 

800

Leaflets

2

1

500

500

Others

 

 

 

300

Act 14 - ABC Library on social marketing

 

 

 

1,000

Running costs (stationary, printing….)

50

1

12

600

Talks, events

200

1

2

400

Total

 

 

 

18,072

 

  1. Time line

 

 

 
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