“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

—Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th U.S. President

Strategic planning is a discovery process that presents a tremendous professional development opportunity. However, it is not meant to be just a “learning exercise.” A strategic plan with measurable objectives provides a solid foundation on which to guide your organization’s communication. Think of it as a road map. Or, as a fortune cookie message from communication consultancy LC Williams & Associates once read: “A communication plan is the guardrail along the road, not the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.”

A communication plan provides a platform to:

  • Analyze why we do what we do.
  • Engage others in exploring the best channels and practices.
  • Manage often-limited resources.
  • Assess outcomes regularly and adjust accordingly.
  • Evaluate unplanned opportunities.
  • Say “no” to those things that won’t get the desired outcomes.

“But, I don’t have time”

Are you thinking, “I don’t have time to plan”? Please hold that thought and consider what you will gain by taking the time to plan. A plan doesn’t have to be long and elaborate. It just requires a thoughtful process and measurable objectives. To achieve measurable objectives, I am guided by these definitions:

  • Objectives: What do we want to have happened and by when?
  • Strategies: How do we get there?
  • Tactics: What do we have to do to get there?

Once your plan is in place, you only need to review it at regular intervals and adapt as the marketplace dictates. In my experience, the adjustments come largely at the strategic and tactical levels. Objectives usually change only by updating metrics.


This article was originally posted on the Communication World Magazine website by Mary Ann McCauley, ABC, IABC Fellow.

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