Four steps to communications that make the impact you want

Sometimes, organisations fall into the trap of churning out communications and simply hoping for the best.

The communications may not be developed with a clear vision of why they’re being produced and how they’re going to help the organisation reach its goals.

What’s more, once the communications are out there, no one really stops to evaluate their effect. And because no one knows if the communications have done their job, more are produced down the track without any real insight into what’s working and what isn’t.

That’s why really thinking through your approach is so important. Here are four steps to crafting communications that can help you create the change you’re looking for.

1. Start at the end

Planning effective communications needs to begin with the end in mind. What goals are you hoping to reach? What’s the impact you want to make? What would success look like?

Without mapping out your objectives clearly at the start, there’s a real risk that the communications you produce won’t actually help you get the result you want. It’s a bit like setting off on a trip without any idea of where you’re headed – you’ll probably get lost, take detours and might eventually end up somewhere you don’t want to be.

So start with the impact you want in mind, and then work backwards to figure out the steps you’ll need to take to get there.


2. Think about where you are now

Once you’ve figured out where you want to be, the next step is to take stock of your situation right now. After all, it’s hard to get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re starting from.

So take the time to look closely at your organisation. What are your strengths? What challenges are you facing? How close are you to reaching your long-term goals?

Another really important part of this step is thinking about your audience. Note who the people are you’re trying to reach – what makes them tick, their needs and wants, and what messages are important to them. Consider too what social impacts you want to see for each audience. How well are you currently achieving these goals? Measuring social indicators at this point will give you the baseline information you need to progress to the next step.


3. Craft the communications

Now that you have a clear idea of your goals and starting point, you’re in a much better position to develop communications that will help bridge the gap and actually bring about the change you’re looking for.

The insights you have gathered should drive your decisions and inform your communications. Always keep at the forefront the impact you want to achieve, and then tailor the communications so they help you get there.


4. Measure your impact

Rather than just hoping your communications are doing their job, it’s important to next actually measure the impact you’ve made.

Evaluation models can provide key insights and are increasingly being used by community-focused organisations and government departments. By comparing your baseline data from step two, these models can help you analyse the effectiveness of your approach.

One such model is Results Based Accountability. This model can help measure your performance and track your progress over time. Another model, Social Return on Investment, is an outcomes-based method that places a value on the social, environmental and economic benefits generated. This model monetises social value and means you can compare the return to the amount invested.

These measurements can help you evaluate just how well your communications are performing. And, perhaps more importantly, they can give you valuable insights to make your communications even stronger in the future.

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Have you used social-indicator measures to help guide your communications? Let us know your experiences.