A communication and outreach roadmap with examples — part 4 of 5

In review:

Now for step 4: What are we going to do?

Okay, so….

Now we need to develop our action plan.

An action plan is not simply a laundry list of stuff we are going to do or produce with deadlines and associated costs.

Too much? Okay, then think of it this way:

An action plan is an objective-driven GPS produced by and for your communications team.

Building on our example: encouraging recycling and environmentally-friendly practices and goodwill within our local community.

We need to ask ourselves:

Given the influencers and channels that we’ve identified are key to engaging with our audience, what kind of communication products and in what volume can we reasonably commit to providing and to what end?

  • We need to be creative while respecting the results of our research and analyses. Rather than another website extolling the virtues of recycling, could we work with a partner to provide more convenient drop-off points for citizens who would like to recycle but find it inconvenient (provided our analyses suggests this includes a significant percentage of our audience)? As a follow-up, could we then distribute maps of these drop-off points at places like grocery stores, schools, etc.?
  • Again, before making any of these suggestions, we should review our analyses to see if indeed our ideas and our proposed partners have not yet tried/are in agreement with the efficacy of such proposals.
  • All actions, products, events and services that we produce must be tied to a relevant real-world need that we can solve and a solution that, ideally, we can measure. For example: we distributed X number of maps highlighting the new drop-off points at the grocery store the first week of March and saw glass drop-offs at the nearby recycling point increase by up to 50% in the next two weeks.
  • Remember to always follow-up! For example, can we interview some of the individuals dropping off their glass to understand what encouraged them to recycle? Is it possible to include some of these interviews in a regional newspaper article praising the local population? Should we distribute more maps to make sure we’ve fully informed everyone of the the new drop-off point, or have we successfully reached most of the relevant community?
  • As wiser heads have noted, success is something to build on and failure is something to learn from. Neither is an end point.
  • If we host a large event to debate the economic benefits of recycling with the community, we best have follow-up events and opportunities for further engagement prepared, probably linked to our legislative plans. Each follow-up opportunity needs to learn from any precedents, building on what works and dropping what doesn’t.
  • Building on success is usually easy; letting go of what doesn’t work can be difficult, but worth it. Fact sheets, brochures, websites, social media posts — all of these products offer value only if they result our target audience taking measurable action. Don’t settle for stuff you can do, focus on action that has real results. Even if these results are bad, at least we learned, so we didn’t waste our time.
  • The goal is not to be the only source credited for the change — we want to be part of the change as it is adopted by the wider target community. Who is best placed to implement/promote/track the actions we plan to take? How much time will it take to truly implement the change desired and, given our limitations, how can we help make the change sustainable? If there is already a partner group working on locally-sourced legislation encouraging recycling, what resources can we provide them to help their work?
  • Again, link any action we aim to take to a real-world need that we can help solve and a solution that we can measure: looking at our analyses, what were the major pain points highlighted for passing environmentally-friendly legislation? What are appropriate solutions that will appeal locally and who is best placed to promote these solutions?

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