New media needs strategy, too

As I monitor the buzz around new media it troubles me that so many people are jumping into the tactics new technology brings with little regard to strategy.

As I monitor the buzz around new media it troubles me that so many people are jumping into the tactics new technology brings with little regard to strategy. What do we expect these new channels to deliver and how do they fit into our overall plans to manage our brands and their reputations?

I propose that we consider a new template for how we build a communications plan, one that is driven by a clear objective and sound strategies, which then define the tactics, be they in new or traditional media.

The traditional planning model includes: An Objective, Strategies, Audiences, Key Messages, Tactics, and Measurement

Today's world with its new and developing communications channels, no longer fits so neatly into this model. Communications has become more interactive. We need a new planning model that will allow us to keep the strongest pieces of the old, such as strategy, and marry it to the best of the new, like having authentic conversations that foster communities of people who respect and trust each other.

I have devised a planning template for our new world. While it might not be perfect, yet, I believe it is directionally on target and provides our profession the freedom to think with a new strategic focus:

Outcomes are a much clearer statement of what you want to have happen. In education, it is a clear statement of what a student should learn in a specific course.

Strategies are critical and should remain the same as the traditional template; a broad scale approach for how you plan to achieve the outcomes.

Engagement replaces both audiences and key messages. It is further broken into three subsections:

Themes: Gone are the days that we can communicate credibly in carefully worded sound bites that often require excruciating debate with legal teams. Themes also are the foundation of good storytelling that captures people's imagination and interest.

Conversations: Themes allow us to have genuine, authentic conversations with the people we are trying to reach. Engaging and speaking with them, rather than at our audiences. Ultimately, these conversations make up a good part of what we call tactics today.

Communities: These are groups of people with shared interests, including interests in our companies, brands, or causes. Communities of people communicate with each other, not at each other.

Results replace Measurement. Results take us back to the beginning of this new template to “Outcomes,” which are the results you wanted to happen.

Rob Doughty is president and founder of his Miami-based firm, Rob Doughty Communications.

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