In the beginning …

By Dana Bloomquist, Senior Account Executive

At CWA Strategic, working with a client isn’t just creating a brochure or writing a news release. As an agency, we help our clients take a look at their big picture, offering strategic advice and collaborating with them to solve a problem or create a new opportunity. How? It all begins with a plan.

  1. Create a client profile. Our first step is to interview the client about their business or organization, reviewing their current branding, mission and values statements, audiences, current communications channels and messaging. All data goes into a document we use for analysis and for baseline measurement.
  2. Dig deeper. As we learn more about the client and their organization, we’ll discover what additional detailed information we need to plan effective strategies. We ask questions like:
    • What are your organizational goals?
    • What are your current metrics
    • Who are your future target audiences?
    • Who are your stakeholders?
    • What obstacles need to be addressed?
  3.  Do the research. Developing a thorough strategic communications plan also includes research. If the client regularly surveys its clients and customers, we ask for copies of completed surveys and do our own assessment of that data. If they don’t have accessible surveys, we may recommend doing this research to get a thorough picture of our client, learning what they do well and what areas need improvement. This research may include focus groups with current or potential customers (or even former, disgruntled customers, as they might offer very useful information), referring entities and other stakeholders. A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) may also be a useful tool in this process. During this analysis, we ask a variety of questions, including questions about our client’s competitors. Depending on the client, we may also recommend doing a competitor analysis.
  4. Put it all together. Gathering the data is the easy part. Careful and thorough analysis is the next step in putting the pieces together to develop a plan for our client. Once the analysis is complete and presented, we work with our client to identify priorities and develop a strategic communications plan with a budget and a timeline.

Key to developing a strategic communications plan is fully understanding the organization, its goals, its strengths and weaknesses, its customers and its priorities. With this knowledge, we can identify communications priorities, develop useful metrics and help our clients plan and implement a strategy to achieve their communications objectives.