4 Common Barriers to Developing a Good Communications Strategy (and How to Overcome Them)

Leading your organization’s communications without a written communications strategy is like sailing a ship without a map.
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Just as a map is essential to navigating the seas, a communications strategy provides direction to your day-to-day communications.

A captain would never even think about sailing a great distance without a map (or GPS), yet every day thousands of organizations set out without a plan.

Why?

I believe there are at least four reasons. Let’s call them…

4 Common Barriers to Developing a Good Communications Strategy

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1) Aimlessness – If you don’t know where you’re going, there’s not much reason or motivation to create a plan to get there, right?

Solution: Pull out your organization’s mission statement. What is the vision? Close your eyes and imagine what that looks like. Your communications should be aligned with your organization’s vision and mission. Imagine what your communications will looks like when your organization’s vision is realized. That’s where you’re going. Write it down. (Note you may want to do this with your team of people. And unless you’re the head honcho you’ll need to get your boss’s approval.)

2) Busyness – Seems like everyone is living at mach 5 these days. There’s always a deadline to meet. And if you’re blogging or using social media, there’s always more people to engage with. Many communicators feel like their work is never done. They just don’t have the time to work on a communications strategy.

Plus strategic thinking is hard work. While I enjoy it, there are times when it makes my head hurt and other times I just don’t have the mental energy for it. It’s easy to keep putting it off.

Solution: Schedule a block of time for strategic thinking. Make sure it’s in the part of the day when you have the most energy. Somehow we manage to block out time for meetings, evaluations, lunch and vacation. It’s a matter of choice.

3) Fear – When you have no plan, nobody can criticize your plan. And when you have no plan, no one can anyone hold you accountable for failing to implement or follow the plan. It’s easier that way, isn’t it? Yes, but it’s also a leadership failure and a sure path to ineffective communications.

Solution: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

4) Ignorance – If you’ve never developed a communications strategy, you may not know how important it is. Or you may not know how to create one.

Solution: Keep reading this blog. ;) I say that half joking. The solution is to find resources and people who can teach you about communications strategies – how-to guides, examples, webinars, books, conferences, coaches and consultants.

While I won’t be providing all those formats, I will provide as much insight and as many examples as possible in this series and answer your questions in the comments.

Plus my hope is the results from the Communications Strategy Survey will inspire other people to develop strategic communications planning resources. If you haven’t done so yet, please take 2 minutes to…

~~> complete the Communications Strategy Survey

If your organization doesn’t have a good written communications strategy, what is your biggest barrier?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

5 Responses to “4 Common Barriers to Developing a Good Communications Strategy (and How to Overcome Them)”

  1. Very good post. I especially like #2 busyness. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed in busyness that the important things get left undone out of discouragement. Strategic planning is what get the juices flowing from a sense of accomplishment.

    • PaulSteinbrueck May 16, 2013 at 11:05 am

      Thanks. "Tyranny of the urgent" can be so oppressive. We've got to be intentional about making time for the important things otherwise we will never get to them.

  2. Hi,

    I first started off with a webpage as I was starting a massive cleanup and needed somewhere to post bits and pieces from my yesterdays. But because of busyness always getting in the way plus no definite direction in what and where etc.

    So now, what’s next:-) There are a few thoughts rattling around in a tired old brain with a lot of hustling from some very younger peers that have touched and blessed my life along the way.

    So the comments on busyness and intention are great and make sense.

    kj

  3. lisavictoriahamilton May 17, 2013 at 2:18 am

    It's also easy to get bogged down by giving in to the idea of all or nothing. For instance, I thought for a long time that I had to maximize every area of communication instead of taking it one area at a time. After identifying my target audience, I started with our strongest mode of communication – which was Facebook – and worked on my plan for social media as a whole, but specifically focusing on implementation with Facebook. By attacking each area one at a time, I watched my fear melt away. I'm still plagued by busyness…and having a dual role doesn't help. But you're right – intentionally making time for those important things is so necessary. Thanks Paul!

    • PaulSteinbrueck May 17, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Great point Lisa! I love the fact that you considered both your audience and your own strengths in developing your strategy.

      I would add that not only is it important that our communications strategy be selective about the type of media and communications platforms we choose to use, but it's also important to be selective about the specific tactics we use within each platform. If I choose to use Facebook, just because I see other organizations doing X, Y and Z on Facebook doesn't mean I have to do all of those things. Maybe X is a good fit for my organization and Y and Z are not. Maybe I have an innovative idea that nobody else is doing and it would be a great fit for my organization.

      The bottom line is, unless we set aside the time to do the hard work of strategic thinking, we will never know where we need to focus our communications.