What is a communication strategy?

A communication strategy is an outline of what you intend to do with your project. Just like a scientific project a communication project needs a path to follow. Your strategy will help you reach your goal and make sure you know when to put the gear in reverse and change the direction.

A basic strategy will contain answers to the following questions:

  • Why are you doing this? (Objective)
  • Who do you want to reach? (Audience)
  • How will you reach your audience? (Method)
  • What do you want to tell your audience? (Message)
  • What do you want your audience to do? (Call to action)
  • How much time will you spend on it and how often will you update? (Maintenance plan)
  • When do you expect results? (Timeline)

Objective

The objective is the goal of your project. What do you want to achieve by doing this? This will of course differ depending on what type of communicator you are, but overall it should be clear to you, why you spend time on it. Try to avoid statements like “I just hope someone will learn something.” as this is too broad to really reach a certain audience plus (maybe even more important) it makes it more difficult for you to measure if you reached your goal.

Audience

Your audience should be defined as clearly as possible. Try to include parameters like age, nationality, vocabulary, educational level, attention span, etc. to make as clear a picture as possible of your listeners.

Method

There are so many ways to reach out to the general public, and the key for you is to figure out which approach to take. This also depends on your audience. If your audience spends most of their time online, then this is also where they should find you. If they, on the other hand, are far away from smartphones and tablets, then it would be beneficial for you to study where to set up public events to meet them in real life.

Message

Your message is what your audience should remember, when they leave the room or your digital platform. It should be short and concise. If you do not know what your message is, the audience will not either.

Call to action

Do you want your audience to do something after they have interacted with your communication project? Maybe you want them to sign up for a certain course or follow you on social media. Maybe you want them to grant you more funding or mention your work in the media. Either way, you should make it clear where to go after the interaction with you. A communication project does not necessarily have a call to action, but be aware if it would benefit your project to have one.

Maintenance plan

How often is it realistic that you will update your social media, website or set up new talks? A classic mistake is to be too ambitious in the beginning and leave the project to slowly deteriorate over time, because you at some point find it too exhausting to maintain.

Instead make a maintenance plan where you set aside whatever time per day/week/month that fits you and is realistic with your other plans. It is better to spend longer time setting up your project, than doing it in two days and then leaving it to dissolve.

Timeline

When do you expect to have measurable results? Make a timeline for your project so you know when to evaluate whether or not your project is a success. Sometimes (if not often) projects need to iterate 1-2-3 or more times, before they are fully functional as intended. So make sure you have a clear definition of when enough is enough – and when your project is a success.