Every time a communication strategy is contracted from an external provider, controversy, discontent, and disbelief arise. If it is in a government office, the public scrutiny of the media and the citizens will provoke the most criticism. This disagreement will prevent many strategies from being contracted. On the other hand, if it is a private company, the objections will come from within the company itself. Executives from different departments and employees will come to comment on the issue, and skepticism will mount. None of the above will be good. To know if a strategy is on the right track and be effective, it must include four fundamental elements. If only one is missing or poorly written, the strategy is already known to be not good.
Criticism and controversy frequently appear in the media due to the communication strategies that government offices hire. The prices paid to produce critics generally. A thousand dollars or one million strategies can be equally bad or a facade for other interests. Price is not a criterion for evaluating a strategy. There are four elements that any communication strategy proposal must contain to pass the test. If these elements are well presenting, it is a solid strategy that should achieve the proposed results. On the contrary, it would be an excuse from government officials to allow someone to benefit from public money.
To make the evaluation, here are the four elements necessary for creating a sound strategy proposal. They are the objective, the plan, the indicators, and the reports. A good strategy must answer the questions within the STAR model, thereby demonstrating its efficiency, professionalism, and effectiveness. Here is the guide to evaluate a strategy from the consideration of each component.
- OBJECTIVE. The first element should be to state the objective clearly, concisely, direct, and straightforward. The description of the aim is to decide to know what is hiring. It would be best if you said that it would be achieving. The words must be factual and not subjective. The creator of Apple said that if you had a business idea and could not summarize it in a business card, you did not have a clear idea. In the same way, if the objective does not clearly state that it will achieve with the strategy, the proposal is not worth it. The explicit purpose will be the pillar for the other three elements. On the contrary, if it is not clear, not only does it fail at that point, but it is impossible to structure the four effectively. From my experience, a proposal in which the objective is full of words with subjective meaning, or it is not a concrete sentence, or it is full of ornate words or terms and encodings is not worth it. If so, it is necessary to rethink and rewrite to fulfill its role.
- PLAN, the second element that will tell if a strategy is well directed, will be that it contains a plan that, in general, clearly summarizes three sub-elements. The plan should clearly explain the STAGES how will develop the strategy. If you make clear how the process will mesh, you are on the right track. The second sub-element that must be well defined is the TIMELINE for carrying out the stages. The clarity in the time frames or periods has the additional effect of facilitating observing the other aspects. A well-measured schedule will reduce the stress of developing a strategy on a day-to-day basis. The third sub-element will be the list of ACTIONS that will be part of the stages and times. If a strategy presents a consolidated plan, it shows that there is knowledge of the authors and there is experience and confidence to achieve the objective. A good plan will eliminate improvisation. Like a flight plan for the strategy plan, it is the best communication channel for all parties involved in executing the strategy and achieving the objective.
- INDICATORS, the third determining element to see the quality of a strategy, will be the indicators planned and considered. This chapter should clarify the KPIs (key performance indicators) to measure the effectiveness and ROI of the strategy. There is no good strategy without indicators. Indicators should formulate before starting the process. These are key to specifying the variables measured and will show that the author of the strategy knows that he is adequately reading the strategy’s parameters. The indicators are also crucial for the future post-strategy because they will allow methodologically to make corrections in communication, message, or media policies. Also, when strategies are developed annually or for specific periods, the indicators will let us see progress or setback. At the same time, they will guide the incorporation of changes in new strategies or processes of the organization. Most strategies fail at this crucial point. Most of the authors have trouble specifying the objective and setting the indicators.
- REPORTS, The fourth and last element is the reports. A good strategy says from the beginning when will produce the information, explaining how the indicators will report. The reports mean the form and substance of the results that are delivered. Reports must honor the four elements, we have described. They will show how to work towards achieving the objective and how the plan progresses with the sub-elements; they will show that the indicators have a sequence of time and mode. They will also guarantee the contracting entity that the strategy is fulfilling, and if it is fulfilling, it is going well. Also, if the strategy has been well negotiating, the reports are the best evidence for payments to contractors. The last role that reports play is to serve as deliverables or physical pieces for audits that monitor the use of public money or company resources.
Whether it is a strategy in digital media or traditional media, these four elements have the same validity. In digital strategy, it is imperative to make everything clear for two reasons: one, that non-digital people can make the individual evaluations on the deliverables, and two, because technology today allows monitoring everything that is executing in a strategy. If the proposal that summarizes the strategy has these four elements clearly and concretely, the possibility of success will be high, and the opportunity to show efficiency will be overwhelming. Having said all of the above, it is inconceivable that today, in government offices, expensive strategies are contracted or not designed to be efficient, achieve objectives, and exceed expectations.
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Most communication professionals who offer strategies are unaware of several of these concepts and must appeal to other reasons to sell their strategies. You need to refine the process of finding and approving a strategy for your hiring. The main criteria for requesting and approving it should only be professionalism and quality. I have said that Price is not a variable, but the debates that the media and citizens make show that the numerous strategies that contract seek to satisfy other political objectives and not the entities’ real needs. If in a company, government office, or campaign whoever hires is not sensitive to these essential elements, he must understand that any strategy that does not comply with these elements will be the spark that starts a great questioning that as an intense fire will be difficult to appease, and the consequences will be the bad reputation of the official or entity. Any government official would avoid these things, but when there are interests and favors to pay, the remaining option is to fail to meet the minimum quality of a strategy proposal and hire it as it is. To learn more about communication proposals and their evaluation, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, tell me about your project or need, and I can surely help you.