A communications specialist at a Midwest university told me recently, “We’re putting out fires on a daily basis. Our department has six people to serve 15,000 students and we have no time to think strategically.” Sound familiar?
While too many organizations chase after the latest communications trends, adding ever more tasks to overworked staff, precious few seem inclined to ask: Why are we doing this? Or, better yet, should we be doing this?
Plan to make choices
Marketing should not be viewed as an all-you-can-eat buffet. If some is good, more must be better. It takes considerable discipline to take a step back and evaluate what is working and which activities are just distractions.
Practicing restraint requires having a plan – a communications strategy that defines objectives and target audiences, and sets priorities for the key messages and media channels used to reach them.
Economy of time
If time is currency, you don’t want to spend yours – or worse, your audience’s – foolishly.
In Kristina Halvorson’s excellent essay on The Discipline of Content Strategy, she writes: “Until we commit to treating content as a critical asset worthy of strategic planning and meaningful investment, we’ll continue to churn out worthless content in reaction to unmeasured requests.”
Do fewer things well
The benefit of taking time for strategy is that it encourages action with a purpose. It also allows staffers to shed activities that have been less effective, freeing up time to handle more promising ventures. The only downside to business as usual? Occasionally having to say “no” to colleagues. Or bosses.
By measuring your marketing efforts through a communications strategy, you’re more likely to provide valuable content that your audience cares about. And you can let the fire department handle the fires.
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