Read on for Abbie’s top tips of developing and using a strategic approach to communication that positively impacts her charity’s success in its work.
Developing, delivering and evaluating comms can feel like a very daunting and tricky task to take on at first, but it has become one of my favourite things! I wanted to share with you my experience, learnings and tips with you in this blog as someone who is now leading on comms and marketing with no prior experience.
The first stepping-stone for developing comms was writing a Comms Strategy, which was something myself and co-workers had never done before. As a team, we started from scratch and took the opportunity to learn and develop alongside a professional. Following on from a session with Sarah, a very detailed comms strategy was created which has now become the base for everything comms related at No5.
This is not a document that just sits on the shelf but one that is living and breathing and has become pivotal when delivering comms materials, as well as when evaluating the same comms after they have gone out.
I have also used the same template of our comms strategy to develop mini strategies for specific campaigns or audiences, for example, developing our internal communications. This has not only helped those specific campaigns, but also helped me not to take on too much at the start of my comms journey and instead build up to it when the time was right.
Creating and delivering comms, especially for the first time, is often the scariest part, as now is the time to put everything into practice.
For me, I find reusing past content not only saves on time, but also gives the opportunity for your audience to see your comms as not everyone will have seen it the first time around!
Re-purposing content is also a key thing I have learnt. Not everyone wants to receive comms in the same way, even if they are in the same target audience. I have found turning videos into blogs and reports into short carousel posts or infographics has not only helped more people receive our comms in a format they enjoy and find accessible. It also provides more opportunities to shout about what it is I want people to know!
Out of all 3 stages, I think evaluating has to be my favourite as it is the chance to see the impact all your work in developing and delivering comms has had.
When evaluating comms, I like to look back over what it was I set out to achieve in the comms strategy , for example an increase in fundraising events. And I also take the time to look out for any new and unexpected achievements, such as an increase in social media post engagement.
I also tend to set out a timeline of key events that happened during the time period I am looking at, such as bank holidays, awareness days, campaign launches and anything else that could have had an impact. This helps not only build an understanding of when your comms might best be received, but also build an understanding as to why they worked, what people enjoyed, why they engaged and what they may like to see more of in the future.
And don’t forget any of the in-person comms you have!
Once I have collated together the learnings from my evaluations, I take the opportunity to share this with my co-workers, not only so we can celebrate (which is really important) but also so we can think about our next steps and identify anything I may have missed. I find this is a great way to go back into the cycle of developing and delivering comms and use these learnings and findings to try out and test new ideas!
Here are some of my key learnings over the last year:
- It’s not one size fits all – what may work amazingly for one organisation isn’t always going to work the same for your organisation and that is totally ok. It’s a great time to then reflect on what does and has worked for you and your audiences and put this into practice.
- You can’t do it alone – Even as an organisation, we could not have developed our comms strategy without the support of a professional (thank you very much Sarah!) as this was not a space we knew a lot about. Having co-workers or other professionals in the comms community is so important as you can share the highs and lows, new ideas, and have someone from outside your organisation look at it in a different way.
- It’s ok to say no – You may get asked to share some comms (such as a social media posts) that don’t align with your comms strategy or your key messages. It’s ok to say no or suggest other ways or times that it could be shared. It can be tricky at first, however you are the comms professional not them!
- Context is important – When evaluating comms, it is really important to look at the whole picture not just the numerical data. For example: Look at what was going on in the month you had a sudden jump in followers: was there a new partnership announcement, launch of a new campaign or some media coverage? This can then help you plan what comms to share next, such as a post about who you are as an organisation, or think about how you could increase this in the future when similar events are happening.
- Share content more than once – I’m sure we all know how busy we are in our day to day lives, but so are our audiences! If you have a really important piece of comms to share or one that may be beneficial to your audiences, make sure you share it more than once so they have multiple chances to see it.
- Have fun! – When creating comms, I find it a lot easier if I enjoy what it is or how it looks. Often the pieces I haven’t felt that way about aren’t received the same as the ones I did enjoy creating!
Abbie Trussler is a lived experienced young leader with a strong passion and connection to young people’s mental health. At No5 Young People, she draws upon her own mental health journey to deliver mental health workshops, write blogs and create resources, and help coordinate projects to support young people’s mental health in Reading. She is also a creative individual who has set up her own small business in her free time. You can find out more in her LinkedIn profile.