When presenting a communications strategy for a potential client you know, from the outset, it has to be a multifunctional vehicle that can take them smoothly through the journey to the point where they can’t wait to get underway with the proposed approach to make everything in the campaign happen… so they need to feel confident their investment in time and money will be more than worth it. 

But of course, as well as making sure the client feels confident, we, as the presenting agency, have to be confident the communications strategy will really deliver what it claims… it has to be pragmatic, and feasible too. So… 

What do you need to create a communications strategy that delivers?  

  1. Do your homework 

Questions to ask yourself: 

  • Have you got a proper brief or are you second guessing what may be required? 
  • Do you have a good understanding of the reasons behind the client deciding that they want to enlist PR support?  
  • What are their motivations – both professional and personal? 
  • What are the issues currently affecting their particular business or their industry? 
  • What are their competitors doing? 
  • Brainstorming 

Arrange a brainstorm to gather fresh ideas and approaches – selecting a few bright brains with experience in the area you are looking at plus a few people with different areas of experience to give a fresh perspective can be very useful.  

  • Chicken or Egg / Tactics or Strategy 

Never let strategy stand in the way of a good tactic – discuss?  

Tactics need to stand up to a litmus test approach of ensuring that they actually deliver on the communication objectives of the campaign.  Serious consideration needs to be given to the strategy and whether an overall umbrella theme/stand-point can be established to encompass the whole campaign that all the tactics will drop out of meaningfully and strongly support. 

Brainstorms are great for dreaming up cracking tactics but they have to be on brand and on message. Not all coverage is good coverage. An idea that could achieve a full page in a national newspaper, but only name checks the client once and doesn’t communicate the message behind the campaign is only worth so much. The capabilities of a tactic should be pragmatically conveyed. 

2.    Key sections of a communications strategy 

  • Introduction  

This states to the client the overall aim of the proposed strategy. 

  • The Brief 

This is the agency’s understanding of what they have been asked to do and states the parameters – so the client has a good understanding of the perceived requirement the strategy is to deliver against.   

  • Challenge 

Lays out up-front the agency’s take on what they may be up against with delivering on the brief because of perhaps the economic climate, the limitations of the product / service, competitor activity, the media landscape etc. 

  • Situation analysis 

Puts the service / product / issue in market / public context. 

  • Objectives 

Lays out the specific aims the campaign is designed to achieve whether it’s to sell more product, drive visitors to a website or stop smoking. 

        In an ideal world these objectives should be SMART; 

  • Specific 
  • Measurable 
  • Achievable 
  • Realistic 
  • Timely/Tangible 

They are often introduced with action statements such as: 

        To increase … 

        To decrease… 

        To eliminate… 

  • Communication objectives / key messages 

This section should cover the information you want the target audience to absorb having been exposed to the campaign tactics e.g. 

  • X Bank offers the widest range of flexible mortgages in the UK 
  • Y medicine has twice the pain killing powers as the leading all in one product.  
  • You can recycle your Christmas cards at special points at most major supermarkets this January. 
  • The proposition 

The proposition is the overall impression that you want your campaign to leave the audience with. 

  • X mortgage – all lifetime banking requirements met by one account including the ability to pay off your mortgage years early saving thousands of pounds in interest. 
  • Y All in One medicine is all you need to treat all your cold symptoms 
  • Z woodstain lasts longer and is environmentally friendly too. 
  • Support for the proposition 

        This is the information the backs up the proposition and makes it credible should any journalist or consumer ask! 

  • Y All in One has 1000mg of paracetamol in it compared with its closest competitor which has just 500mg. 
  • Target audiences 

Channels 

The media sector / key titles / key journalists / influencers the campaign will target as well as other communications channels such as social media, email marketing, landing pages  

Business Sectors / Consumers 

The industry sectors / employee roles / buyer personas / socio-demographic / tribe definitions of the consumer audience your campaign is aimed at influencing. 

  • Strategy 

 The topline action plan or framework for achieving the aims of the campaign. This effectively is the topline overview across the bones of the tactics. e.g. 

  • Reach consumer directly to sample the product via presence activity 
  • Show the empathy and altruism of the brand by conducting extensive research to reveal real consumer insight 
  • Get opinion formers on board to create word of mouth buzz with key audiences. 
  • Implementation / tactics 

Tangible detail on the actual physical activities the agency will undertake within the strategy which are designed to deliver the required / proposed results.  e.g. 

  • Take roadshow to 5 key railway stations in the client’s natural marketing area and sample to consumers with the breakfast cereal bar on their way into work. Have promotional staff dressed up as the different fruit to emphasise the different flavours etc. 

This is where you bring to life your targeted creativity to show how the client investment will be spent and what they will get for it…so this should be inspiring. 

  • Evaluation 

Communicate the importance of measurability and outline the methods of evaluation open to the client from Reach (opportunities to see) and DA (domain authority) of online coverage, through to KPIs (key performance indicators) and tonality indexes, calls to action, or back links. The creativity and nice PR ideas are a means to an end, new never lose sight of the end game and business reasons for doing it all in the first place, particularly key if the overall marketing objectives are to generate sales, profits or market positioning. 

  • Time scale 

Provide a chronology of campaign milestones so clients can easily appreciate how the campaign messaging builds and by when they can expect to start seeing the results. 

  • Budget 

An outline or broken down transparently depending on requirements. The budget needs to be realistic and as accurate as possible so you can deliver all you propose while demonstrating value for money. 

  • Conclusion 

Include an outtake section – so summing up what the intended outcomes will be for the campaign and what the target audience will hopefully take away from exposure to the campaign. 

  • Next steps 

It is always a good idea to suggest the next steps, such as time frame for client response.