Start Planning Now

We’re now on week three.

How amazing that I could totally say that to anyone around the world and they’d know exactly what I mean?!
Every PR person I know is focused on COVID-19. If you’re like me, you’ve done more Zoom meetings in the last two weeks than all of last year. Companies are in full-on steady-state crisis mode and are rightfully leaning on the expertise of communications professionals to guide them.
PR pros are sharing insights and talking in forums about everything from how to properly frame a coronavirus response message (be sympathetic, factual, honest and helpful) to whether or not it’s appropriate to pitch anything unrelated to COVID-19 right now (that would be a hard ‘depends’) to how to stay sane with toddlers running around (d-e-e-e-p breaths).
While it might be nerve-wracking to consider in the midst of managing life and business with the coronavirus, it’s important for communications professionals to begin thinking now about how their company or client will navigate the future.
That means planning.
I know times are crazy, but I encourage you to start considering the following:

  1. How’s our SWOT? What are our greatest strengths, weaknesses (internal), opportunities and threats (external) right now? Where do we excel today? Can we adapt our business to ensure our proactiveefforts are on point like this in the future? We are currently suckingat ____. What do we need to think about/do/change/stop to mitigate this in the future?
  2. Who cares? Which target audiences are totally diggin’ us right now? Who’s responding to our communications? Have we won over new, unexpected audiences? Why? How do we know? Are we losing any? Why? Who do we need to ensure we absolutely engage with excellence? What would that look like?
  3. What’s resonating? What messages have really made an impact in our various channels (coronavirus-related or not)? How do we know? Have we gotten more strategic with our COVID-19 responses? Why? And if we have, how the heck do I ensure we replicate this so I never again have to silently scream when I see all the mixed messages we’re sending out into the marketplace?
  4. What’s working? Which channels have we managed with ease? Have we surprised ourselves by how well we’ve adapted to a new channel we’d never engaged (Zoom :-))? How might we creatively use this channel in the future? Will all of us be “zoom-ed” out, or is there real opportunity here?

The idea is to start the thinking process (which should naturally lead to a quest for data to find the answers to these and other questions you may have).
Communications pros have a unique opportunity to re-imagine their work and step into the role of trusted advisor for their companies and clients. I have always found that communications planning impacts business decision-making. 

And that’s exactly what it should do.
Let me know if you want a copy of my planning framework. I’ve used it for years to teach nonprofit leaders how to develop and implement a strategic communications plan. It’s based on the format endorsed by the Public Relations Society of America and one that every accredited PR professional knows.
I wish you good health and happy planning!

Jennifer R. Hudson
Accreditation in Public Relations (APR)
ThinkBeyond Public Relations

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