By Will Brummett, BJC intern

Set your next project up for success by starting with a simple one-page communication plan, which can make all the difference. Marketing and digital strategist Heidi Thompson shared her experiences and insights on crafting this tool with the D.C. chapter of the Religion Communicators Council for the September chapter meeting.

Thompson drew on her varied experiences to discuss the power of designing simple, one-page communication plans for future events, campaigns or product launches. Many communication professionals have experienced being left out of the planning of major events or campaigns until the last minute. So, what do you do when, once invited to the planning, you realize the projects you’re being asked to promote lack a clear set of communication goals or are depending on gimmicky outreach tactics? Coming to the table with a simple plan allows you to define success, choose clear priorities, identify key audiences and collectively decide on the best strategies and tactics from the outset, bringing all the stakeholders together. This also can lead to crucial buy-in from the rest of the staff, allowing a higher chance for success for everyone involved.

Any plan starts with clearly defining the goals and strategy for the specific assignment, including how success can be proven. Thompson said that once a clear goal is set, the focus then shifts to defining the key audience, choosing a clear message that captures the relevant hurt or hope being addressed, deciding which channel(s) should be used for that audience, and brainstorming the timing, cost and relevant logistics necessary to get the job done.

Once your goals and strategies are laid out, Thompson recommends creating a “Tactical Punch List,” which breaks the larger goal into smaller milestones and lists the tactics, audience, task owners and deadlines into a one-page format that creates clear accountability and action steps.

Thompson currently serves as a marketing and digital media strategist for a number of regional and national faith-based publications. She brings decades of experience to the conversation from her previous experiences as publisher and CEO of Religion News Service and the vice president for marketing and publisher of Sojourners magazine. She is leading a workshop on this topic at the 2020 Religion Communications Congress, held March 17-21 in the greater Washington, D.C. area. Visit https://www.rccongress2020.org/ to learn more.

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