Creating a Communications Strategy

If you haven’t heard of the Sweet Dreams Cooperative, you should. It’s a group of young, innovative women who design and sew beautiful hand-made products in San Francisco. My friend Arezoo and I were introduced to this organization through Spark (another organization I highly recommend getting to know!). We were asked to host a social media workshop designed to help the women market their products to a wider audience. Eight months later, we’re still working with these women and couldn’t be having more fun!

Sweet Dreams Zip Cases.
Image Credit: Sweet Dreams.

Sweet Dreams has many similarities to other programs I’ve consulted with: highly interested in social media, yet missing a communications strategy. Social media is fun, engaging, and exciting. It’s only natural to want to go ahead and dive right in. However, without a communications strategy in place, messages are often misconstrued, leaving the audience questioning your credibility. A communications strategy will be the backbone to your organization and will guide you through every outreach adventure. Let’s begin!

1. Define your organization. Simply put: who are you and what do you do? Try to make this as clear and concise as possible. Remember that when marketing online, anyone can see your content. These are often individuals who do not have an understanding of your mission or what you sell. If you’re representing a non-profit or social enterprise, clearly describe how your organization impacts a given issue. Your audience will not invest in your organization unless they believe your work has meaning and value.

2. Define your target audience. Who are you trying to reach and why? Make a list, and keep in mind that having several target audiences is very common. At IIE, we have about ten including young adults, program alumni, and like-minded organizations. Why? We need active people who engage on social media to spread the word about our work. We need to reach out to alumni because they are already invested in our organization and will (hopefully) continue to support us. With like-minded organizations, we can establish a mutual partnership that will allow us to support their events and programs while they do the same for us. Like-minded organizations are an asset not the competition.

3. Define your outreach goals. Why are you marketing? Do you want to sell more products? Do you want more donations, more volunteers and/or more people at your events? Make a list, try to keep it broad and try to keep it to five main bullet points. Keep in mind that this will be an evolving list.

These are the first steps in developing or reconstructing your communications strategy. It’s a great way to create the “big picture” strategy by brainstorming with your colleagues. Have fun during this process and always feel free to ask me questions!