Tami Hausman, PhD
The new year is here and you’ve got a plan for strategic communications, but how do you sell it to the C-suite? If you’re shooting for the moon, you don’t just get in a rocket and say “where should we go today and how should we get there?”. You need a goal and a vision for hitting your targets.
At the outset, it’s critical that the C-Suite understands your program, sees its value, supports your strategy and, at the end of the day, gives you credit for a job well done. You’ll need to keep their support by communicating your activities and successes in ways that sustain excitement and a sense of momentum among your team and the leadership alike.
Here are five easy steps to get (and keep) the C-Suite on board with your mission:
- Get aligned
First, to get buy-in, you need to align your strategy with your company’s business plan and its vision for the next five to ten years. Your strategy should address overall goals, such as what products or services you offer or will be offering, where you want to expand, who are the current and emerging leaders of the company, etc. Show the C-Suite that your plan and their vision are in sync.
- Choose your collaborators
You can’t devise a winning plan on your own. You’ll need a core team that’s not too big and not too small. If it’s too big, you won’t be able to build consensus; if it’s too small, you won’t get a diversity of informed perspectives and insights. The right size is about six to eight. Once you have a team, make sure that you identify one champion who you can count on to shepherd the implementation of the plan from start to finish. While it’s great to have a lot of hands on deck, you need a strong point person who will get the job done.
- Set milestones
Your strategic plan needs to be both strategic and actionable. While you want to establish a high-level strategy that the C-Suite can rally around, you also need to demonstrate how you will actually roll out the plan. Clearly outline your tactical activities and plot them on a timeline to show how you intend to accomplish your strategy. Most of all, be sure to establish agreed-upon goals, milestones, and success indicators to keep everyone focused and accountable. This should include regular review periods to check what’s working and what’s not. If something is not working, be nimble, decisive, and prepared to pivot.
- Use graphics
Let’s face it, written strategic plans aren’t typically that visually engaging. Make your documents dynamic using images, infographics, and other visuals that dramatize your goals, methods, and timeline. Graphics will undoubtedly make your plan more interesting, more readable, and, above all, far more effective in communicating the details about your plan and its outcomes.
- Make it measurable
Last but not least, more than just being accountable, you need your results to be measurable. Metrics are not the outcome of the plan per se, but they are the tools to help you gauge your progress toward reaching your goals. Choose metrics that are both reliable and relevant. You want to frame the results of your communications program using both quantitative metrics that can show your audience composition and reach, as well as qualitative measurements, such as consistent messaging that will keep your strategy in step with your brand.
About the Author: For more than 25 years, Tami Hausman, Ph.D. has been an expert communications, PR, and marketing advisor to top firms in the architecture and design industry who seek out her experience and insights. In 2008, she founded Hausman LLC, whose clients include national and international architects, related professional services firms, and non-profit organizations.
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