Your Business Communication Strategy Framework

Whether you’re writing a game-changing Press Release, or a super-simple customer update, you need a strong communication strategy to ensure you get the right message across consistently and keep fundraising on an upwards trajectory.

But with so many other responsibilities on your shoulders; running the day-to-day your charity, we completely understand that staff/volunteer levels, balancing budget, maintaining compliance, and more all take a considerable chunk of your thinking time.

And with so much running through your mind, having a short checklist of considerations can make sure you don’t miss an important factor, and help you get more from your communication strategy. So, here’s our breakdown on developing a strong communication strategy framework that can be used across all your comms:

Sounds simple right? While these 4 simple questions may seem basic, when you drill into each, there’s plenty of nuance that you may need help making decisions on.

So before you get started, we’d also recommend you involve members from all levels of your organisation; volunteers can tell you what convinced them to get involved, or fundraisers can let you know what works well in the field when asking for donations, for example.

Let’s get started!

What are you communicating?

The first question you need to ask yourself is what are you communicating?

No matter what, you need to show positivity and energy to help your readers mirror your passion and drive your cause. For example, if you’re notifying your community about a service you offer, what are the key benefits they are going to enjoy?

Obviously, an update to stakeholders may sound different to an email to volunteers, but that doesn’t mean they can’t mirror the same energy and positivity, just worded in different ways – but we’ll dive deeper into this later.

It’s also important to pull out the key message – what is it that you want your readers to remember – and make sure that’s where the readers’ eyes are drawn. It may also be worth repeating it a couple of times through the communication, just to drive that message home.

What do you want readers to do?

The next major factor to consider is what you want your readers to do after the final full stop. This is sometimes known as the ‘Call to Action’ or CTA.

On an email, your phone number is a CTA, so are the buttons to book a call back or learn more. In a Press Release, it may be the contact details for further press enquiries or a website to visit.

Whatever you want your readers to do, make sure it’s clear. And if possible, use colour and design to make it stand out from the main copy so they can clearly see what to do next.

What is the end goal?

The end-goal’ can very easily be confused with your Call to Action, but they are different. If for example, you’re raising awareness across a new fundraising campaign, you’re CTAs in emails and social may be to get readers to visit a donation page, but the end-goal is raising as much money for your cause as possible.

This slight difference can be very different end-results. For example, you wouldn’t want to put possible donors off by listing all the possible donation amounts in an email, instead using that first email to educate on the cause and why readers should donate. Then, after they’ve clicked the button to visit your donation page, you can try to persuade them to donate a higher amount with more engaging content such as a testimonial or video interview.

When is your communication going to be sent?

As the old adage goes ‘timing is everything’…

In a nutshell, there’s no point sending out communications when no one is listening, so make sure you consider the best time to send out your messaging for the highest uptake.

If it’s a social post about a fundraising event, getting the message out as early as possible will give the most amount of time to drum-up interest and for volunteers to spread the word by sharing the post. But emails tend get the best open rates just before lunchtime, so make sure your considering who you’re speaking to, what the post is about and when they’ll be free to read it before you schedule your communication.

The day you send it can be important too. For example, if you’re looking for a corporate sponsor, Friday probably isn’t the best day to send. People are tired and may be preoccupied in achieving their week-end goals. Plus, if your message gets missed at the top of their inbox, it may get buried over the weekend, never to be read.

It can also be important to plan ahead when it comes to timing – if you need permission from interviewees, approval from stakeholders or a communication is very time-sensitive for example, make sure you plan ahead and give plenty of allowance for issues that need resolving before the deadline.

How is it being sent?

The next thing to decide is how your messaging is being sent, which could be the difference between it getting lost in the ether or reaching its intended destination.

For short, sharp messages, social media is perfect. Your volunteers and staff can share posts with their networks to raise awareness and it’s completely free! But it’s not great for anything official – like a service update – unless the post is directing people to a site to read the full story.

Even within social media, you have to consider which platforms to use – Twitter is a great catch-all for example with audiences from all ages. Facebook tends to be used by people 30+, Instagram is great for image-focused posts, and Tik-Tok could help you attract a younger generation of patrons and allies.

Press Releases are still a great way to get an important message far and wide, and many publishers will promote charity stories as soon as possible, but it’s always worth keeping a list of outlets you send your PRs to, and chase them if articles haven’t been published, to make sure you’re getting as much publicity as possible.

Obviously, email is an essential tool when engaging with your audiences, but with people’s inboxes more stuffed than ever, you need an eye-catching subject line to prompt them to read the full email. Another useful strategy is personalising the email with the person’s name or anything else you know about them, so it feels like you’re only sending the email to them, instead of your entire mailing list.

How will you assess success?

If you start to use this framework regularly, you’ll probably consider this towards the start of the process, when deciding what the end-goal of your communication is. It could be open or click-through rates on emails, engagement in social posts or any other target, but whatever it is, don’t move it half-way through your campaign, unless you’ve already reached it and want to set a stretch goal.

Because whether or not you reach your end-goal, you can always do better. So, finding ways to iterate and improve your communications is key. But here are a few lessons we’ve heard from our clients:

  • A/B testing on email subject lines and CTAs will help you increase open rates
  • Using video on social could lead to 10x more engagement
  • Replying to social comments quicker may lead to more community engagement and higher volunteer numbers

Who will receive your communication?

This is one of the most important considerations in your comms strategy. After all, you have many very different target audiences to balance.

One of the best ways to separate your different audiences is by creating ’buyer personas’, even if your audience isn’t necessarily buying anything. Immediately, you’ve got your stakeholders, volunteers, staff, service users, and the wider community to name a few! Even within your service users, you may have different demographics that come to you for different reasons.

So, consider their backgrounds – experience, education, age, lifestyle, their goals with your charity as well as their concerns, and create an imaginary person that embodies all of those characteristics, and repeat for each different demographic.

Then, you can refer back to these when you’re writing a communication for a specific audience and make sure you take their wants and needs into account, so that your messaging resonates as much as possible!

Who’s responsible?

Chances are, that person is going to be you. Depending on the size and scope of your charity, it may be worth nominating a ‘campaign champion’ or ‘comms champion’ to help ensure all bases are covered. For example, who’s checking any social channels you use to reply to comments, track posts and engage with the community?

Another important consideration is who’s responsible for approving communications, making sure there are no typos and that the message gets to the right people. Again, it’s probably going to be you, but if you’re managing a team of staff and volunteers, you may want to look at the RACI methodology.

In essence, RACI defines who is responsible, accountable, consulted and informed, on a project, so that everyone stays on the same page and knows what their role is. If you’d like to learn more, it just takes a quick search – there’s plenty of free resources online!

And that’s it! Four simple questions – What? When? How? Who? – the only four that you’ll ever need to develop a rock-solid communications strategy framework. And there’s plenty more advice and support that Voluntary Services Communications Group can offer!

We’re the telecoms company charities trust because we save charities 30% on average, compared to their previous technology spend, which means more money for the causes they care about, and we can do the same for you too!

Over the last decade, we’ve helped over 500 charities just like yours, with a broad portfolio that covers everything from connectivity to cables, cybersecurity to scanners. In other words, we can make sure that you’ve got the technology and support you need to push your cause forward.

So, get in touch if you’d like to reduce your comms spend and find a better way to support your local community.

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