The 8 Key Elements of Communications Planning

Posted on Jan 24, 2019 in Blog, Fundamentals

1. Constituencies
Identify your important audiences and get to know their needs and expectations.

2. Programs and Services
Know your “product.” True marketing involves a give and take between you and your “customer” with something of value going in both directions and both parties benefiting from the exchange. This is as true for your development and alumni programs as for student recruitment.

3. Selling Points
Since you’re not the only option for prospective students, faculty or donors, you need to distinguish what sets you apart from others competing for your customers’ attention. Be able to describe your main attributes in a compelling way.

4. Marketing Information Sources (Research) 
Inform your planning with both qualitative and quantitative data about how people perceive your school and your services, what they want from you and how to communicate accordingly. Research enables you to anticipate new programs and identify new customers, to weigh external factors affecting cost and other aspects of doing business, and to assess how well you’re delivering.

5. Communications Vehicles
There are many vehicles for communicating your message effectively. These include printed pieces, website, social media, ads, special events, community and media relations and personal contact via mail, email, telephone and face-to-face meetings. Know which one or more to use depending on what your purpose is for getting in touch in the first place.

6. Desired Outcomes
What you want to accomplish by producing or engaging in some other form of communication should be analyzed for specific audiences.

7. Staffing and Resources
Because you don’t have an unlimited budget, you have to make prudent choices about setting communications priorities based on available resources. It is better to implement a modest program and continue it reliably than to take on too much and later abandon new modes of communicating.

8. Calendar
Your publications/public relations program in support of overall advancement goals will remain reactive until all elements are plotted on a calendar that accounts for realistic production schedules to meet agreed-upon deadlines.