Monday, May 18, 2015

Tips for Writing Communications Campaigns

One of my tasks at my summer internship was the creation of a Twitter communications campaign.  This planning document is very common in the communications field and if you are a marketing communications, promotion or public relations student you will write at least a few in your college career. So here are some tips to writing a communications campaign.


A rough draft of my Twitter communications plan.  It looks scary, but once you know the basics, you can write full-sized documents in no time.

Key Elements of a Communications Campaign
All plans vary a bit and the exact structure of your plan will depend upon your employer's standards or your professor's requirements.  However, most plans have the following sections in common: an executive summery, a situation analysis, research, target audience, statement of purpose and the plan itself.

Executive Summery
It sounds fancy, but it is the most straightforward section of your plan. In concise language you will summarize the problem or opportunity, the situation, the goal, and how your plan will help. It is usually a page long.

Situation Analysis
This second section summarizes the current situation and is a powerful tool for helping others understand the opportunity or problem, which is useful when proposing your document to those who are not immediately involved in the situation.

Research
The research section summarizes, in clear language, the findings of either your primary or secondary research.  Since many people are visually strong, be prepared to bust out those charts and graphs (they save time, too).

Target Audience
This section is straightforward but very crucial as it is where you will detail who will receive the message of your campaign. If I'm writing key messages for specific target audiences, I like to put them here next to their respective audiences.

Statement of Purpose
This section briefly explains the reason your document exists and how it will help capitalize on the opportunity or improve the problem. In one page (maybe two for larger plans) I introduce the goal and summarize key objectives, strategies and tactics of the plan.

The Plan
At last we've arrived at the meat of your document and this section outlines everything you or your team will do to reach the communications goal. Crucial aspects of your plan will include deadlines and measurements for evaluating the success of your plan. The next section covers tips on writing and formatting your plan.

Know the G.O.S.T
You will structure your plan around what we communications junkies call the G.O.S.T., the Goals, Objectives, Strategies, and Tactics.

The Goal
The goal is the whole reason you are writing this document. In one sentence, you will summarize what you hope to achieve. For example, my goal was "Boost the Twitter followers from 588 to 1,000 by June 2015."

The Objectives
Your plan will have at least one objective to support the goal.  The objectives for my plan were "Objective 1: Network through Twitter's follow feature" and "Objective 2: Improve content quality and posting regularity."

The Strategies
The strategies are clear statements of direction for each objective.  For example, my strategy for objective 1 was using Twitter's follow feature as an online networking mixer by following relevant Twitter accounts and their followers.

The Tactics
Tactics are specific actions that will complete the strategies. They range from websites, press releases, social media posts to speeches. For my networking strategy above, I wrote tactics such as "follow the bands that play at the Riverwalk, post comments to their accounts, retweet and follow some of their fans." My other tactics included social media press releases and the creation of evergreen content like tips for enjoying the Riverwalk or posting of exceptional Riverwalk photos.


My rough draft shows one option for formatting the G.O.S.T. section of your plan. Cleanliness and legibility are crucial no matter which style you choose.
Formatting Your Document
Your document needs to be clean, professional and easy to follow. Your margins should be 1", your typeface double spaced, 12 point size and in a typeface that is easy to read (select durable serifs like Cambria, Minion Pro or Palantino Linotype).  I like to set my headings in a bolder sans serif, like Century Gothic Bold or Franklin Gothic Medium, to add a little bit of contrast and visual interest without breaking the professional look of the document.  Setting a color for the headings of your executive summery, situation analysis, research, target audience, statement of purpose and the plan can help organize the sections. Ad a cover document with your client's logo, a clear headline and your contact information in a discrete corner. Slip the pages into plastic covers, assemble in a nice binder and you will have a nice proposal. Good luck!

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