I’ve never worked in a business large enough to separate marketing and communications. Even at the largest organisation where I was an employee, I was responsible for both. So what is the difference?
As the head of the department, I concentrated on the marketing while carrying out some of the communications. So I was the person who determined the marketing strategy and plan. To grossly oversimplify, I worked out what story we had to tell and to whom we should be telling it.
Communications is about telling the story. Because my team was small and I had certain skills, I continued to oversee brochure production and wrote copy. Others dealt with the practicalities of communications through advertising, social media, PR, the website and mailings.
So how do you plan your communications?
- Consult the marketing plan. As an expert in communications, you should be talking to the Marketing Manager to make sure you fully understand who you need to communicate with (clients, customers, funders) and what you are expected to achieve.
- Set targets in a time frame.
- Carry out an inventory of your resources, both human and physical. Human resources could be a press officer, a digital marketer, an advertising agency etc. Physical resources would be a website, social media, print media, email list etc.
- Allocate the resources, single or mixed, that will best deliver each target.
- If you have been given a budget, allocate it to the resources that will achieve the best return. Otherwise, work out the budget you will need and negotiate your final spending allowance with the management.
- Create the stories in images and words that are appropriate for each medium. I’ve said it before but I can’t stress enough that it is never the case that one piece of copy fits all: an email will be personal while a press release will be quite neutral; a tweet will be snappy while flier copy will go into detail. On the other hand, the ‘voice’ and branding should be consistent.
- Test and monitor, adapting as you go.
The above is about external communications. An internal communications plan will be similar but will not take its lead from a marketing plan. Instead it will involve researching the stakeholders and understanding how best to communicate with them- most likely emails, postal mailings, social media groups, presentations and digital forums.
Paul Seven Lewis is the owner of the marketing & website design company Seven Experience Limited and presents the YouTube channel One Minute Theatre Reviews. He was formerly Head Of Marketing at The Mayflower Southampton and Marketing Manager at Theatre Royal Winchester.