Five Tips for Moving from Strategy to Action

Give yourself a big, big round of applause: you and your team have invested the time and energy in mapping a strategic communication plan that fully supports your organization’s mission, vision, and programs. Your goals are SMART, you’ve identified your audiences, and you’ve conducted formative research. You’ve crafted messages and drafted materials (you even know how you’ll pretest them), and you’ve chosen your channels.

The only thing left to do now is to do it—and that means you need an action plan. Without it, your superb strategy will simply be a document that finds its way to the back of a file cabinet. Follow these tips to ensure that your plan sees the light of day.

1. Prioritize your efforts.

If you’ve created a plan with many goals reaching many audiences, you may feel as though it can’t all be done right now—and that’s okay. Prioritize your goals and make your plan more manageable and realistic.

You can prioritize based on what needs to happen first, or within the next 6 to 12 months. You might also prioritize your goals based on reaching the “low hanging fruit” (i.e., goals that are most easily accomplished and/or audiences who are most easily reached).

2. Define the unique tasks that need to be accomplished for each goal.

Let’s say that you’ve established a communication goal to persuade local businesses to support your community-based mentoring program with supplemental funding and a pool of mentors. A few of the possible tasks in support of this goal might include:

  • Printed and digital materials to support your “ask” (e.g., success stories from your program, relevant data on how mentoring is a worthwhile investment, or digital stories from youth who’ve been mentored)
  • A presentation to your local Chamber of Commerce
  • One-on-one meetings with potential supporters

As each task is completed, put a big, juicy check mark next to it. It feels good knowing you’re closer to achieving your goal. You’ll also be able to make mid-course adjustments as you witness the results of your work.

3. Pull out the calendar.

There’s nothing like a deadline to get the job done. It’s a critical accountability measure. Decide when you can realistically launch your outreach, and work backwards from there.

4. Assign one person to be accountable for completion of each task.

Delegating responsibility to an individual is frequently far more effective than assigning accountability to a team of people. This way, there will always be one person who can offer a progress report and identify barriers.

5. Put your action plan on paper.

It can be as simple or complex as you need it to be, in any software program that makes sense to you. At a minimum, however, it should include the items listed above: a list of prioritized goals, unique tasks, persons responsible, and due dates.

Make time to review your plan at least once a month. Along the way, you may realize that your original communication plan needs to be adjusted, and that’s okay—a communication plan should be a living document, not set in stone. As long as you’re making consistent and measurable progress toward your goals, you’re on the right track.

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