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This page is part of Benton Foundation's online archive. We've kept some old stuff around for historical purposes.

Think it Through (Benton Foundation)
Strategic Communications ... ... in the digital age 

Think it Through
Planning Audience
Message Shaping
Media Choices

Put it to Work

What to Watch

Peer2Peer Learning

Funders' Corner

950 18th Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20006

Benton Foundation 2001

Think it Through
What it takes to design & fund an effective communications strategy

Communications is much less about the technology or medium chosen as a vehicle and more about advancing the cause of your organization. An effective communications strategy reflects your organization's mission, goals and objectives, and is well integrated into daily operations. It requires a clear articulation of audience, clarity of message, and choice of media platform. It also consists of an ongoing feedback relationship between planning and evaluation.

Good planning is key to the success of your project. This is true whether it's for designing goals and objectives for your organization, mapping out a communications project, or figuring out what your Web site should look like.

Identifying your audience, then understanding as much as you can about them is key to your communications plan. Considerations include: "Who do we want to reach? What's the best way to reach them? What characteristics do they share?" These details and more will guide your communications effort.

Message Shaping
Your message has to be appropriate for your various audiences and platforms. For example, the way you communicate your organization's message to the press might be very different from the way you communicate with your members. And writing for the Web is very different from writing for print and radio.

Media Choices
The media (or platforms) that you choose to disseminate your message will be impacted by decisions you make about who your audience is and what message you have for them. Similarly, which platform you select will also impact your message and limit your audience. In addition, as media platforms increasingly go digital and start to converge, opportunities for using multiple platforms increase. Here you'll find discussions of different approaches and strategies for different media.

A good communications strategy takes evaluation very seriously. This component is often overlooked, but is highly regarded by funders. Make sure that you keep evaluation in mind when you create and implement your communications plan.

No matter how great your message is or how well you have planned your communications efforts, nothing gets done without the right resources-- financial and otherwise. But good planning, and strong integration of technology and communications into your organization's objectives will help get you the support you need.

Last updated: 15 October 2001 mff