begins and ends and the relationship of tactics to each other in a time continuum. Calendars are organized by pub­ lic and strategy to show the work required. A Gantt chart is recommended. Calenda Budget Budgets are also organized by public and strategy. The budget projects the cost of each tactic. It also indicates where costs will be offset by donations or sponsorships. Subtotals are provided for each strategy and public. 7. COMMUNICATION CONFIRMATION The confirmation table checks the logic of your analysis in formulating a persuasive plan. The action plan is reduced to a format that shows the alignment of strategies and tactics with key publics and opinion lead­ ers; messages with self-interests; and all of these components with the objectives. The completed table becomes a tool to manage implementa­ tion of the campaign. Key Public Self-interests Objectives 8. EVALUATION CRITERIA AND TOOLS Primary Messages Opinion Leaders Strategies Tactics Evaluation criteria are the desired results established by the objectives. Evaluation tools are the methodologies you use to gather the data. These tools must be included in the calendar and budget. © 2015 LAURIE J. WILSON AND JOSEPH D. OGDEN 17 62 chapter 4 Using research for effective communications planning esearch should be an established and ongoing process in any organization. Suc­ cessful organizations are always scanning the internal and external environ­ ment, gathering data and feedback from key publics and measuring the effectiveness of their communication in moving toward established goals. At some point, the key information is pulled together to support planning, but that does not signal an end to research. The savvy professional is always looking for new information that may ad­ just plans at any point or reconfirm the validity of current efforts. Measurement that we call “evaluation” in the Strategic Communications Planning Matrix focuses on measuring our success rather than gathering information to chart a course. Never­ theless, what we find out from evaluation integrates with the constant flow of other information to become the foundation of new efforts, programs and campaigns. Research provides the information that helps us find solutions that work. It also demonstrates our credibility to our clients or to management. If the research pro­ cess can be said to have a beginning, it starts when someone first states a problem or discovers an opportunity. Someone — a client, a customer, a colleague, a supervisor or you — identifies an issue or an opportunity. Then we start to organize what we know around that issue or opportunity. We also reach out to gather what we don’t know but need to know. That’s when the real work begins. Facts and information are gathered from all sources and organized to be sorted and evaluated. Figure 4.1 indicates the depth of detail and the breadth of perspective necessary in this process. Translate the concepts on the checklist to whatever economic sector you are representing. Your analysis may have a commercial product orientation, a corporate issue management focus, a nonprofit fundraising challenge or any number of other purposes. The checklist can be universally applied. R STRATEGIC PLANNING MATRIX 1. BACKGROUND Planning begins with a synthesis of primary and secondary research. It provides background information on the industry, external environ­ ment, client, product, service or issue. It includes a market analysis and segmentation study that identifies current trends in opinions, attitudes and behaviors. Resources such as staffing, facilities and intervening publics are also identified. 2. SITUATION ANALYSIS The situation analysis consists of two paragraphs. The first paragraph is a statement of the current situation and a description of the challenge or opportunity based on research. The second paragraph identifies poten­ tial difficulties that could impede success. 3. CORE PROBLEM/ OPPORTUNITY The core problem/opportunity is a one-sentence statement of the main difficulty or prospect—including likely consequences if not resolved or realized. chapter 4 Using research for effective communications planning 63 Figure 4.1________________________________________ Communications and marketing research checklist 1. External environment • Economic, political and social environment within which the organization operates and the problem or challenge has occurred along with any underlying issues. • Pressures on the organization and the impact of current events on its operation and the maintenance of key relationships. 2. Industry • Organizations, companies, dollar sales, strengths, challenges. • Industry growth patterns, primary demand curve, per capita consumption, potential. • History, technological advances, trends. • Characteristics, distribution patterns, control and regulation, promotional activity, geographic characteristics, profit patterns. 3. Client • History, size, growth, profitability, scope of business, competence, reputation, strengths, weaknesses, structure, personnel. 4. Product, service or issue • The product, service or issue story, development, quality, design, packaging, pricing policies and structure, sales and profit history, trends, distribution, reputation. • Product, service or issue sales features (exclusive, nonexclusive, differentiating qualities, competitive posi­ tion in public’s mind). • Sales force (size, scope, ability, cost/sale). • Product research and planned improvements. 5. Promotions • Successes and failures of past policy, sales force, advertising, publicity. • Expenditures, budget emphasis, relation to trends. • Ad/PR/marketing strategies, themes, campaigns. • Promotions of competitors and like organizations. 6. Market share • Sales history industry-wide and share of market in dollars and/or units. • Share of the market in terms of clients, donors, services, etc., for noncommercial organizations. • Market potential, industry trends, company trends, demand trends. 7. Competition • Who and where the market is; how it is segmented; publics’ needs, attitudes and characteristics; how, why, when and where publics purchase or act. • Customers (consumers, voters, donors, etc.) — past and future — and commonalities. • Competitors and their potential. • Competing attitudes, ideas and lifestyles. 8. Resources • Intervening publics and opinion leaders. • Publics’ attitudes and opinions toward product, issue or organization. • Physical facilities and personnel. 9. SWOT analysis • Internal and external strengths and weaknesses including publics, resources, attitudes, organization, structure, sales force, ideas, allies and enemies. • Emergent or possible opportunities. • Threats to the organization and to success. 10. • • • • Market research Demographic and psychographic data (values, attitudes and lifestyles). Current attitudes, opinions and values pertaining to product, service or issue. Motivating self-interests and opinion leaders. Information sources and preferred media channels. 64 chapter 4 Using research for effective communications planning If you are designing the first-ever communications effort or strategic communica­ tions plan for your client or company, the research section of your plan may take a sig­ nificant amount of time to complete. It may require an exhaustive search and synthe­ sis of new data. If, however, ongoing communications functions have systematically gathered and organized research data into easily accessible and usable information, your research task will be more of an update. Always take the time to record and file pieces of information you come across in your daily routine. Continually gathering information will make the research task for any given effort or issue much easier. The next several chapters in this book are designed to take you through the 8-Step Strategic Communications Planning Matrix step by step. The Matrix Applied sections, introduced in this chapter, provide practical application of that process. As we progress through each step of the matrix in this and subsequent chapters, the Matrix Applied examples will illustrate each step as it is discussed in the text. Mfiffi Research background, situation analysis and core problem/opportunity The State Department of Corrections is planning to construct a new prison in Green Valley, a small farming town 50 miles from an interstate highway. The 7,500 people in the town and 2,500 more in the surround­ ing area are concerned for the safety of their families and property. The state will face expensive opposition unless attitudes can be changed so that the town is reassured of its safety and welcomes the economic development that will come with the new facility. BACKGROUND The externa! environment: Like the rest of the country, Green Valley is struggling to emerge from the economic downturn that hit this farming community particularly hard. Unemployment and underemployment have been problems, and the construction project and the staffing and mainte­ nance of a prison in town would be a definite economic boon. Politically, the residents are conservative and supportive of the penal system, but highly publicized incidents of violent crime have them wary of the kinds of people and criminal culture that would be introduced into their community and to their children. The industry: While the penal system would introduce the seamier side of society to Green Valley, the prison and all the services needed to support the prison would mean several million dollars injected into the area economy annually, and it would mean 750 new jobs with the prison alone, not to mention the jobs that would be added as the town’s busi­ ness community expanded to meet the needs of such a facility. While many of those jobs would be blue collar, hourly positions, a fair percent­ age would be professional positions in education, health care, manage­ ment, finance and other professions. Technology, strict regulation and control in this industry renders safety less of an issue than the public may c h apt e r 4 Using research for effective communications planning think. That means growth for Green Valley as people move into town to support the new prison, and employment for people in Green Valley who have been without work because of the recent recession. The client: The state prison system keeps a low profile, and has been able to do so because of virtually no incidents threatening public safety in the last couple of decades. The system is efficiently managed, and employees are competent. Its reputation is unsullied. The service: The service provided by the taxpayer-funded state penal system is necessary. In this conservative area, the justice system is sup­ ported, and the concept of prisons is understood and accepted. There is little, if any, opposition to the idea of a prison; there was simply concern that it would be located here. The issue of safety is the primary concern in the minds of citizens, and the exposure of children to the idea of vio­ lent crime in society is a close secondary concern. In a small town like this, children and families would see the prison facility daily, a constant reminder of their vulnerability and the criminal element in society. Promotions: Research shows that other states that have faced this chal­ lenge have been most successful when they have invited the community’s voice in the process. Providing full information on location, plans, time­ lines, construction and operation along with inviting public discussion and comment have typically allowed communities to weigh the pros and cons and come to a decision of support. Economic benefits, safety pro­ cedures and safety records of other state facilities have all been powerful messages. When communities have a voice in the process, are assured of the safety of their families, recognize the economic benefits and see the meticulous planning for the least disruption of their lives, they tend to be supportive of a prison in their community. A pervasive public information effort, the support of local opinion leaders and community forums have been the most effective tools to engage publics and gain support. Competition: The only competition is the publics’ perceptions, attitudes and values. Fear for safety and fear for a loss of innocence present oppo­ sition. Those can be overcome with accurate information and recognition of the benefits. There is also a potential for legal opposition for a project like this. Resources: Opinion leaders will be critical resources in this public informa­ tion and persuasion campaign, particularly local officials, school adminis­ trators and local media. The community’s need for economic growth and stability, as well as jobs, can be considered a resource. City hall, the high school and the local recreation center are established community meeting places that can be used for community forums. A weekly newspaper and a local radio station will also be resources for information dissemination. (ContinuecT) 65 66 chapter 4 Using research for effective communications planning Research background, situation analysis and core problem/opportunity (.continued) SWOT analysis: MH STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES 1. Economic benefits 2. Penal system safety record 3. Support of local leaders i. Construction inconvenience 2. Daily visibility of negative element OPPORTUNITIES THREATS i. Jobs 2. Local media i. Safety 2. Family values 3. Legal opposition Market research: This requires a full demographic breakdown of the area in terms of ages, income, employment and other characteristics. It also requires psychographic data on attitudes, values and beliefs for politi­ cal, social and economic issues, as well as for the prison specifically. The psychographic breakdown would include lifestyles, recreation and other similar data. It would also include identification of opinion leaders, self­ interests, information sources and preferred media channels. SITUATION ANALYSIS The announcement that the state is planning to construct a new prison facility in Green Valley has been met with initial resistance. While resi­ dents are generally supportive of the state’s penal system, which has an excellence record of safety and competence, they fear the introduction of the criminal element into their peaceful community. Safety has been the overriding concern of residents, overshadowing the economic benefits that would come from the construction and maintenance of this facility. This project would bring in several million dollars annually and 750 jobs to this economically struggling community. It would boost the business and professional communities, improve medical facilities, strengthen funding of education and provide an economic injection that would significantly improve the quality of life for the vast majority of area residents. A solid 80 percent of residents have expressed concerns over safety, but only 35 percent could name a potential economic benefit. Fewer than 20 percent thought the new facility would improve other local services like education and health care. Nearly three-quarters of residents have c hapte r 4 Using research for effective communications planning a favorable opinion of the state corrections department, but only onequarter indicate that they would be fully supportive of a prison in Green Valley. While only 30 percent are outright opposed to locating the prison here, 45 percent have significant concerns. Should those concerns not be alleviated, the opposition could potentially mobilize a legal challenge to the project. The primary challenge seems to be public awareness and education. Other efforts have shown that giving the community a voice in the pro­ cess and being completely transparent and open about plans and opera­ tion have improved community support, especially given the economic benefits. Safety will always be an issue, but the reputation and safety record of the department of corrections as well as procedures in place to ensure safety can assure the community that there is low risk associ­ ated with housing a prison in the community. Local opinion leaders and local media are well-informed on relevant issues and are supportive. But if opposition can’t be converted to support, Green Valley will likely lose the opportunity to improve the standard of living for residents by locating the prison there. CORE PROBLEM/OPPORTUNITY Raise public awareness of safety and the benefits of the new prison to gain public support and neutralize opposition so that the Green Valley prison project can go forward without costly delay or legal opposition. This chapter is designed to help you pull together information and analysis into a succinct document focused on a specific purpose. That purpose might be a complete strategic plan, a budget request for a new communications effort, a solution to a problem or challenge, a response to a perceived threat or a proposal to take advantage of an emergent opportunity. For our purposes here, we call this part of a plan or proposal the research section to facilitate parallelism with the Research, Action Planning, Communication and Evaluation (RACE) model. As depicted in the Strategic Communications Planning Matrix and Matrix Applied example, the research section consists of the background, situation analysis and core problem/opportunity. Background The background is a summary of pertinent facts and information drawn from primary and secondary research. It must be comprehensive, but written con­ cisely. It does not contain everything you discovered in research, only the in­ formation necessary to establish credibility with your client or manager and build the foundation for your plan. A good background will often depict data and 67 78 chapter 5 Setting goals and objectives O Q-C* PLANNING he second step of the RACE model is action planning. Planning and the program­ ming it generates is how we get from here to there. “Here” is where we are now. It is our current situation as we have described it after synthesizing our research and redefining the challenge or opportunity we face. “There” is where we want to be; it’s our goal. Planning helps us to look ahead, to chart our course to ensure we get there. Like sailing a boat, planning must be flexible and open to course correction as we re­ ceive feedback or obtain new information. Nevertheless, unless we know where we are going and have some idea of an appropriate course to get there, our arrival at the destination will be left to chance. The more complete our planning — based on good research — the better our chances of arriving at our destination. T OH II. The process of using research to chart the step-by-step course to solve a problem, take advantage of an opportunity or meet a challenge. O GOAL The result or desired outcome that solves a problem, takes advantage of an opportunity or meets a challenge. The matrix approach to planning The heart of the Strategic Communications Planning Matrix is the action planning section. The research process — including the collection, organization and analysis of information and honing it into a situation analysis and core problem/opportunity — lays the foundation for the action planning process. Broom and Sha (2013) call this a “searching look backward,” a “wide look around,” a “deep look inside” and a “long look ahead.” The matrix addresses each of the remaining three steps — action planning, com­ munication and evaluation — as discrete functions. Nevertheless, this is a planning matrix; the emphasis is on planning each step before implementing. Thus, the re­ sulting plan, although dynamic, should drive both the communication and evalua­ tion steps in the process. Planning occurs at two distinct levels within any organization. First, long-term planning looks at the entirety of the organization and its mission. It identifies goals, STRATEGIC PLANNING MATRIX 4. GOAL AND OBJECTIVES Goal Objectives The goal is a one-sentence statement of the overall result needed to solve the problem or seize the opportunity. The goal does not have to be quantified. Objectives are numbered or bulleted statements of specific results that will lead to the achievement of the goal. Objectives must be specific, written, measurable, attainable, time-bound, cost-conscious, efficient and mission-driven. If objectives are clear, key publics become obvious. 5 Setting goals and objectives 79 O objectives, publics and messages that address the long-term accomplishment of the OBJECTIVE organization’s mission. Second, short-term planning is designed to target more immediate needs such as managing a crisis, launching a new product line and repairing a damaged reputation. Effective high-level planning should, nonetheless, inform planning for more spe­ cific short-term campaigns. Although they are focused on a more specific challenge, short-term communications efforts should always reinforce the key messages, goals and objectives of the long-term plan. Nevertheless, by their nature, they may also address publics that may not be long-term key publics to the organization but that are crucial to the accomplishment of the short-term effort. Research helps us define the challenge and the current environment within which the opportunity has occurred or will occur. As shown in the complete matrix in chapter one, planning identifies what specifically needs to be accomplished (goal and objectives) to overcome the challenge, who (key publics) we need to reach and/ or motivate to accomplish the goal and objectives, what we need to convey (messag­ es) to those publics to stimulate action and help us achieve our objectives, and how (strategies and tactics) to get those messages to those publics so they both receive and act upon them. This latest edition of the matrix has the big idea concept to better tie together the who, what and how of a campaign under a creative unifying theme. The process is analytical, with the decisions made and actions planned in each step driving the decisions made and actions planned in each subsequent step. Fur­ ther, each step must be taken in turn. For example, the key publics for a particular problem-solving effort cannot be selected until we have determined the goal and the objectives necessary to achieve that goal. Only then can we select the publics that are needed to accomplish our objectives. Similarly, we can only design effective messages after we have selected key publics, know what we need them to do and determined their self-interests. The decisions we make about the information a public needs, what will motivate the public to act and who should deliver the message to the public are prerequisite to designing messages that result in action that accomplishes objectives. Effective informational and motivational messages cannot be designed for a given public without a thorough analysis of its research profile, examination of the status of the current relationship with that public and knowledge of its self-interests as they pertain to the problem at hand and related issues. Strategies and tactics ap­ propriate to send the designed messages to the selected publics cannot be deter­ mined until we know what those messages are. Quite simply, the matrix approach requires us to decide what we want to do, who we need to reach to do it, what messages we need to send to obtain cooperation and how we can most effectively send those messages. The steps must be taken in order or our planning is left to chance and will most likely be flawed and offtrack. We have all seen campaigns that had good re­ search but somehow misconnected in the planning process. One poignant example is Salt Lake City’s campaign to win the bid for the 1998, and subsequent­ ly the 2002, Winter Olympics. Previously, the Den­ ver organizing committee had to withdraw its candi­ dacy as the U.S. representative in a previous Olympic Games bid because of opposing public opinion in the Specific, measurable statement of what needs to be accomplished to reach the goal. C © Aron Hsiao/Shutterstock.com chapter 80 chapter 5 Setting goals and objectives Denver area. Consequently, the Salt Lake City organizers decided it was important to have a public referendum on the issue to demonstrate to the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee that Utah was fully supportive of Salt Lake’s candidacy. With support running high in the state (upwards of 80 percent), the orga­ nizing committee expected the referendum would send a strong message that Utah residents were squarely behind the effort. Nevertheless, its own polling showed there was weak support and even opposition among senior citizens, environmentalists and ultra-conservative segments of the population. While these groups actually comprised only a small percentage of the Utah population, the organizing committee worried that, in an off-year election, those three publics were the most likely to vote. Given that information, the goal and objectives were to get out the supportive vote. The strategy was to air clever, creative and visually appealing TV spots (tactics) that gave people a good feeling about Utah hosting the Olympic Games. The end of the spots showed a box with a checkmark in it to indicate a vote supportive of the Olympic bid. But the ads were essentially still seeking intrinsic public support of the games. The ads didn’t ask people to get out of their chairs and go vote. The bid already had a high public approval rating. What the committee really needed was to motivate those who approved to get to the polls and cast their supportive vote. But the committee — through its ads — never actually asked the approving publics to go vote. So they didn’t. The referendum passed by only a very slim margin. The orga­ nizing committee was plagued with explaining the low margin of public support to the IOC in almost every subsequent interaction. Once the city won the opportunity to host the 2002 Winter Olympics, the orga­ nizing committee no longer had to address the issue of citizen support to the IOC. Nevertheless, the low voter support of the referendum was continual fodder for the active (albeit minority) opposition to the games in Utah. No public opinion poll could ever entirely dispel the results of the actual vote. The Salt Lake Olympic Committee had good research data and analysis. It knew what it had to do: get out the supportive publics who don’t typically vote in an offyear election. The committee knew the profiles of the publics it had to reach. Yet the committee designed a message that did not specifically ask those publics to do what needed to be done. The committee also sent the message in a broadly targeted tactic through a mass medium ill-suited to the purpose at hand — reaching and motivating highly segmented publics. Each step of the matrix planning process must build on the previous step. The logic must flow consistently and coherently. Disregarding the information accumu­ lated, the decisions made and the actions planned in one step will almost always ensure that the decisions made and actions planned in the subsequent step are off target and headed for failure. With this important lesson in mind, the next few chapters address the action planning steps of the Strategic Communications Planning Matrix. This chapter be­ gins that discussion with identifying what needs to be done to meet the challenge or to seize the opportunity at hand. Establishing goals Once the core problem or opportunity is accurately established, setting the goal is a simple task. The goal is actually a positive restatement of the core problem. If your challenge is declining confidence among investors leading to a decline in stock price, your goal is to reestablish confidence and boost your stock price. If your chapter 5 Setting goals and objectives 81 problem is a lack of accurate information regarding the process of organ donation, thereby causing a shortage of available organs for transplant, your goal is to increase the number of organs donated by overcoming misperceptions about the process. The goal should be broader and more general 

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 begins and ends and the relationship of tactics to each other in a time continuum. Calendars are organized by pub­ lic and strategy to show the work required. A Gantt chart is recommended. Calenda Budget Budgets are also organized by public and strategy. The budget projects the cost of each tactic. It also indicates where costs will be offset by donations or sponsorships. Subtotals are provided for each strategy and public. 7. COMMUNICATION CONFIRMATION The confirmation table checks the logic of your analysis in formulating a persuasive plan. The action plan is reduced to a format that shows the alignment of strategies and tactics with key publics and opinion lead­ ers; messages with self-interests; and all of these components with the objectives. The completed table becomes a tool to manage implementa­ tion of the campaign. Key Public Self-interests Objectives 8. EVALUATION CRITERIA AND TOOLS Primary Messages Opinion Leaders Strategies Tactics Evaluation criteria are the desired results established by the objectives. Evaluation tools are the methodologies you use to gather the data. These tools must be included in the calendar and budget. © 2015 LAURIE J. WILSON AND JOSEPH D. OGDEN 17 62 chapter 4 Using research for effective communications planning esearch should be an established and ongoing process in any organization. Suc­ cessful organizations are always scanning the internal and external environ­ ment, gathering data and feedback from key publics and measuring the effectiveness of their communication in moving toward established goals. At some point, the key information is pulled together to support planning, but that does not signal an end to research. The savvy professional is always looking for new information that may ad­ just plans at any point or reconfirm the validity of current efforts. Measurement that we call “evaluation” in the Strategic Communications Planning Matrix focuses on measuring our success rather than gathering information to chart a course. Never­ theless, what we find out from evaluation integrates with the constant flow of other information to become the foundation of new efforts, programs and campaigns. Research provides the information that helps us find solutions that work. It also demonstrates our credibility to our clients or to management. If the research pro­ cess can be said to have a beginning, it starts when someone first states a problem or discovers an opportunity. Someone — a client, a customer, a colleague, a supervisor or you — identifies an issue or an opportunity. Then we start to organize what we know around that issue or opportunity. We also reach out to gather what we don’t know but need to know. That’s when the real work begins. Facts and information are gathered from all sources and organized to be sorted and evaluated. Figure 4.1 indicates the depth of detail and the breadth of perspective necessary in this process. Translate the concepts on the checklist to whatever economic sector you are representing. Your analysis may have a commercial product orientation, a corporate issue management focus, a nonprofit fundraising challenge or any number of other purposes. The checklist can be universally applied. R STRATEGIC PLANNING MATRIX 1. BACKGROUND Planning begins with a synthesis of primary and secondary research. It provides background information on the industry, external environ­ ment, client, product, service or issue. It includes a market analysis and segmentation study that identifies current trends in opinions, attitudes and behaviors. Resources such as staffing, facilities and intervening publics are also identified. 2. SITUATION ANALYSIS The situation analysis consists of two paragraphs. The first paragraph is a statement of the current situation and a description of the challenge or opportunity based on research. The second paragraph identifies poten­ tial difficulties that could impede success. 3. CORE PROBLEM/ OPPORTUNITY The core problem/opportunity is a one-sentence statement of the main difficulty or prospect—including likely consequences if not resolved or realized. chapter 4 Using research for effective communications planning 63 Figure 4.1________________________________________ Communications and marketing research checklist 1. External environment • Economic, political and social environment within which the organization operates and the problem or challenge has occurred along with any underlying issues. • Pressures on the organization and the impact of current events on its operation and the maintenance of key relationships. 2. Industry • Organizations, companies, dollar sales, strengths, challenges. • Industry growth patterns, primary demand curve, per capita consumption, potential. • History, technological advances, trends. • Characteristics, distribution patterns, control and regulation, promotional activity, geographic characteristics, profit patterns. 3. Client • History, size, growth, profitability, scope of business, competence, reputation, strengths, weaknesses, structure, personnel. 4. Product, service or issue • The product, service or issue story, development, quality, design, packaging, pricing policies and structure, sales and profit history, trends, distribution, reputation. • Product, service or issue sales features (exclusive, nonexclusive, differentiating qualities, competitive posi­ tion in public’s mind). • Sales force (size, scope, ability, cost/sale). • Product research and planned improvements. 5. Promotions • Successes and failures of past policy, sales force, advertising, publicity. • Expenditures, budget emphasis, relation to trends. • Ad/PR/marketing strategies, themes, campaigns. • Promotions of competitors and like organizations. 6. Market share • Sales history industry-wide and share of market in dollars and/or units. • Share of the market in terms of clients, donors, services, etc., for noncommercial organizations. • Market potential, industry trends, company trends, demand trends. 7. Competition • Who and where the market is; how it is segmented; publics’ needs, attitudes and characteristics; how, why, when and where publics purchase or act. • Customers (consumers, voters, donors, etc.) — past and future — and commonalities. • Competitors and their potential. • Competing attitudes, ideas and lifestyles. 8. Resources • Intervening publics and opinion leaders. • Publics’ attitudes and opinions toward product, issue or organization. • Physical facilities and personnel. 9. SWOT analysis • Internal and external strengths and weaknesses including publics, resources, attitudes, organization, structure, sales force, ideas, allies and enemies. • Emergent or possible opportunities. • Threats to the organization and to success. 10. • • • • Market research Demographic and psychographic data (values, attitudes and lifestyles). Current attitudes, opinions and values pertaining to product, service or issue. Motivating self-interests and opinion leaders. Information sources and preferred media channels. 64 chapter 4 Using research for effective communications planning If you are designing the first-ever communications effort or strategic communica­ tions plan for your client or company, the research section of your plan may take a sig­ nificant amount of time to complete. It may require an exhaustive search and synthe­ sis of new data. If, however, ongoing communications functions have systematically gathered and organized research data into easily accessible and usable information, your research task will be more of an update. Always take the time to record and file pieces of information you come across in your daily routine. Continually gathering information will make the research task for any given effort or issue much easier. The next several chapters in this book are designed to take you through the 8-Step Strategic Communications Planning Matrix step by step. The Matrix Applied sections, introduced in this chapter, provide practical application of that process. As we progress through each step of the matrix in this and subsequent chapters, the Matrix Applied examples will illustrate each step as it is discussed in the text. Mfiffi Research background, situation analysis and core problem/opportunity The State Department of Corrections is planning to construct a new prison in Green Valley, a small farming town 50 miles from an interstate highway. The 7,500 people in the town and 2,500 more in the surround­ ing area are concerned for the safety of their families and property. The state will face expensive opposition unless attitudes can be changed so that the town is reassured of its safety and welcomes the economic development that will come with the new facility. BACKGROUND The externa! environment: Like the rest of the country, Green Valley is struggling to emerge from the economic downturn that hit this farming community particularly hard. Unemployment and underemployment have been problems, and the construction project and the staffing and mainte­ nance of a prison in town would be a definite economic boon. Politically, the residents are conservative and supportive of the penal system, but highly publicized incidents of violent crime have them wary of the kinds of people and criminal culture that would be introduced into their community and to their children. The industry: While the penal system would introduce the seamier side of society to Green Valley, the prison and all the services needed to support the prison would mean several million dollars injected into the area economy annually, and it would mean 750 new jobs with the prison alone, not to mention the jobs that would be added as the town’s busi­ ness community expanded to meet the needs of such a facility. While many of those jobs would be blue collar, hourly positions, a fair percent­ age would be professional positions in education, health care, manage­ ment, finance and other professions. Technology, strict regulation and control in this industry renders safety less of an issue than the public may c h apt e r 4 Using research for effective communications planning think. That means growth for Green Valley as people move into town to support the new prison, and employment for people in Green Valley who have been without work because of the recent recession. The client: The state prison system keeps a low profile, and has been able to do so because of virtually no incidents threatening public safety in the last couple of decades. The system is efficiently managed, and employees are competent. Its reputation is unsullied. The service: The service provided by the taxpayer-funded state penal system is necessary. In this conservative area, the justice system is sup­ ported, and the concept of prisons is understood and accepted. There is little, if any, opposition to the idea of a prison; there was simply concern that it would be located here. The issue of safety is the primary concern in the minds of citizens, and the exposure of children to the idea of vio­ lent crime in society is a close secondary concern. In a small town like this, children and families would see the prison facility daily, a constant reminder of their vulnerability and the criminal element in society. Promotions: Research shows that other states that have faced this chal­ lenge have been most successful when they have invited the community’s voice in the process. Providing full information on location, plans, time­ lines, construction and operation along with inviting public discussion and comment have typically allowed communities to weigh the pros and cons and come to a decision of support. Economic benefits, safety pro­ cedures and safety records of other state facilities have all been powerful messages. When communities have a voice in the process, are assured of the safety of their families, recognize the economic benefits and see the meticulous planning for the least disruption of their lives, they tend to be supportive of a prison in their community. A pervasive public information effort, the support of local opinion leaders and community forums have been the most effective tools to engage publics and gain support. Competition: The only competition is the publics’ perceptions, attitudes and values. Fear for safety and fear for a loss of innocence present oppo­ sition. Those can be overcome with accurate information and recognition of the benefits. There is also a potential for legal opposition for a project like this. Resources: Opinion leaders will be critical resources in this public informa­ tion and persuasion campaign, particularly local officials, school adminis­ trators and local media. The community’s need for economic growth and stability, as well as jobs, can be considered a resource. City hall, the high school and the local recreation center are established community meeting places that can be used for community forums. A weekly newspaper and a local radio station will also be resources for information dissemination. (ContinuecT) 65 66 chapter 4 Using research for effective communications planning Research background, situation analysis and core problem/opportunity (.continued) SWOT analysis: MH STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES 1. Economic benefits 2. Penal system safety record 3. Support of local leaders i. Construction inconvenience 2. Daily visibility of negative element OPPORTUNITIES THREATS i. Jobs 2. Local media i. Safety 2. Family values 3. Legal opposition Market research: This requires a full demographic breakdown of the area in terms of ages, income, employment and other characteristics. It also requires psychographic data on attitudes, values and beliefs for politi­ cal, social and economic issues, as well as for the prison specifically. The psychographic breakdown would include lifestyles, recreation and other similar data. It would also include identification of opinion leaders, self­ interests, information sources and preferred media channels. SITUATION ANALYSIS The announcement that the state is planning to construct a new prison facility in Green Valley has been met with initial resistance. While resi­ dents are generally supportive of the state’s penal system, which has an excellence record of safety and competence, they fear the introduction of the criminal element into their peaceful community. Safety has been the overriding concern of residents, overshadowing the economic benefits that would come from the construction and maintenance of this facility. This project would bring in several million dollars annually and 750 jobs to this economically struggling community. It would boost the business and professional communities, improve medical facilities, strengthen funding of education and provide an economic injection that would significantly improve the quality of life for the vast majority of area residents. A solid 80 percent of residents have expressed concerns over safety, but only 35 percent could name a potential economic benefit. Fewer than 20 percent thought the new facility would improve other local services like education and health care. Nearly three-quarters of residents have c hapte r 4 Using research for effective communications planning a favorable opinion of the state corrections department, but only onequarter indicate that they would be fully supportive of a prison in Green Valley. While only 30 percent are outright opposed to locating the prison here, 45 percent have significant concerns. Should those concerns not be alleviated, the opposition could potentially mobilize a legal challenge to the project. The primary challenge seems to be public awareness and education. Other efforts have shown that giving the community a voice in the pro­ cess and being completely transparent and open about plans and opera­ tion have improved community support, especially given the economic benefits. Safety will always be an issue, but the reputation and safety record of the department of corrections as well as procedures in place to ensure safety can assure the community that there is low risk associ­ ated with housing a prison in the community. Local opinion leaders and local media are well-informed on relevant issues and are supportive. But if opposition can’t be converted to support, Green Valley will likely lose the opportunity to improve the standard of living for residents by locating the prison there. CORE PROBLEM/OPPORTUNITY Raise public awareness of safety and the benefits of the new prison to gain public support and neutralize opposition so that the Green Valley prison project can go forward without costly delay or legal opposition. This chapter is designed to help you pull together information and analysis into a succinct document focused on a specific purpose. That purpose might be a complete strategic plan, a budget request for a new communications effort, a solution to a problem or challenge, a response to a perceived threat or a proposal to take advantage of an emergent opportunity. For our purposes here, we call this part of a plan or proposal the research section to facilitate parallelism with the Research, Action Planning, Communication and Evaluation (RACE) model. As depicted in the Strategic Communications Planning Matrix and Matrix Applied example, the research section consists of the background, situation analysis and core problem/opportunity. Background The background is a summary of pertinent facts and information drawn from primary and secondary research. It must be comprehensive, but written con­ cisely. It does not contain everything you discovered in research, only the in­ formation necessary to establish credibility with your client or manager and build the foundation for your plan. A good background will often depict data and 67 78 chapter 5 Setting goals and objectives O Q-C* PLANNING he second step of the RACE model is action planning. Planning and the program­ ming it generates is how we get from here to there. “Here” is where we are now. It is our current situation as we have described it after synthesizing our research and redefining the challenge or opportunity we face. “There” is where we want to be; it’s our goal. Planning helps us to look ahead, to chart our course to ensure we get there. Like sailing a boat, planning must be flexible and open to course correction as we re­ ceive feedback or obtain new information. Nevertheless, unless we know where we are going and have some idea of an appropriate course to get there, our arrival at the destination will be left to chance. The more complete our planning — based on good research — the better our chances of arriving at our destination. T OH II. The process of using research to chart the step-by-step course to solve a problem, take advantage of an opportunity or meet a challenge. O GOAL The result or desired outcome that solves a problem, takes advantage of an opportunity or meets a challenge. The matrix approach to planning The heart of the Strategic Communications Planning Matrix is the action planning section. The research process — including the collection, organization and analysis of information and honing it into a situation analysis and core problem/opportunity — lays the foundation for the action planning process. Broom and Sha (2013) call this a “searching look backward,” a “wide look around,” a “deep look inside” and a “long look ahead.” The matrix addresses each of the remaining three steps — action planning, com­ munication and evaluation — as discrete functions. Nevertheless, this is a planning matrix; the emphasis is on planning each step before implementing. Thus, the re­ sulting plan, although dynamic, should drive both the communication and evalua­ tion steps in the process. Planning occurs at two distinct levels within any organization. First, long-term planning looks at the entirety of the organization and its mission. It identifies goals, STRATEGIC PLANNING MATRIX 4. GOAL AND OBJECTIVES Goal Objectives The goal is a one-sentence statement of the overall result needed to solve the problem or seize the opportunity. The goal does not have to be quantified. Objectives are numbered or bulleted statements of specific results that will lead to the achievement of the goal. Objectives must be specific, written, measurable, attainable, time-bound, cost-conscious, efficient and mission-driven. If objectives are clear, key publics become obvious. 5 Setting goals and objectives 79 O objectives, publics and messages that address the long-term accomplishment of the OBJECTIVE organization’s mission. Second, short-term planning is designed to target more immediate needs such as managing a crisis, launching a new product line and repairing a damaged reputation. Effective high-level planning should, nonetheless, inform planning for more spe­ cific short-term campaigns. Although they are focused on a more specific challenge, short-term communications efforts should always reinforce the key messages, goals and objectives of the long-term plan. Nevertheless, by their nature, they may also address publics that may not be long-term key publics to the organization but that are crucial to the accomplishment of the short-term effort. Research helps us define the challenge and the current environment within which the opportunity has occurred or will occur. As shown in the complete matrix in chapter one, planning identifies what specifically needs to be accomplished (goal and objectives) to overcome the challenge, who (key publics) we need to reach and/ or motivate to accomplish the goal and objectives, what we need to convey (messag­ es) to those publics to stimulate action and help us achieve our objectives, and how (strategies and tactics) to get those messages to those publics so they both receive and act upon them. This latest edition of the matrix has the big idea concept to better tie together the who, what and how of a campaign under a creative unifying theme. The process is analytical, with the decisions made and actions planned in each step driving the decisions made and actions planned in each subsequent step. Fur­ ther, each step must be taken in turn. For example, the key publics for a particular problem-solving effort cannot be selected until we have determined the goal and the objectives necessary to achieve that goal. Only then can we select the publics that are needed to accomplish our objectives. Similarly, we can only design effective messages after we have selected key publics, know what we need them to do and determined their self-interests. The decisions we make about the information a public needs, what will motivate the public to act and who should deliver the message to the public are prerequisite to designing messages that result in action that accomplishes objectives. Effective informational and motivational messages cannot be designed for a given public without a thorough analysis of its research profile, examination of the status of the current relationship with that public and knowledge of its self-interests as they pertain to the problem at hand and related issues. Strategies and tactics ap­ propriate to send the designed messages to the selected publics cannot be deter­ mined until we know what those messages are. Quite simply, the matrix approach requires us to decide what we want to do, who we need to reach to do it, what messages we need to send to obtain cooperation and how we can most effectively send those messages. The steps must be taken in order or our planning is left to chance and will most likely be flawed and offtrack. We have all seen campaigns that had good re­ search but somehow misconnected in the planning process. One poignant example is Salt Lake City’s campaign to win the bid for the 1998, and subsequent­ ly the 2002, Winter Olympics. Previously, the Den­ ver organizing committee had to withdraw its candi­ dacy as the U.S. representative in a previous Olympic Games bid because of opposing public opinion in the Specific, measurable statement of what needs to be accomplished to reach the goal. C © Aron Hsiao/Shutterstock.com chapter 80 chapter 5 Setting goals and objectives Denver area. Consequently, the Salt Lake City organizers decided it was important to have a public referendum on the issue to demonstrate to the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee that Utah was fully supportive of Salt Lake’s candidacy. With support running high in the state (upwards of 80 percent), the orga­ nizing committee expected the referendum would send a strong message that Utah residents were squarely behind the effort. Nevertheless, its own polling showed there was weak support and even opposition among senior citizens, environmentalists and ultra-conservative segments of the population. While these groups actually comprised only a small percentage of the Utah population, the organizing committee worried that, in an off-year election, those three publics were the most likely to vote. Given that information, the goal and objectives were to get out the supportive vote. The strategy was to air clever, creative and visually appealing TV spots (tactics) that gave people a good feeling about Utah hosting the Olympic Games. The end of the spots showed a box with a checkmark in it to indicate a vote supportive of the Olympic bid. But the ads were essentially still seeking intrinsic public support of the games. The ads didn’t ask people to get out of their chairs and go vote. The bid already had a high public approval rating. What the committee really needed was to motivate those who approved to get to the polls and cast their supportive vote. But the committee — through its ads — never actually asked the approving publics to go vote. So they didn’t. The referendum passed by only a very slim margin. The orga­ nizing committee was plagued with explaining the low margin of public support to the IOC in almost every subsequent interaction. Once the city won the opportunity to host the 2002 Winter Olympics, the orga­ nizing committee no longer had to address the issue of citizen support to the IOC. Nevertheless, the low voter support of the referendum was continual fodder for the active (albeit minority) opposition to the games in Utah. No public opinion poll could ever entirely dispel the results of the actual vote. The Salt Lake Olympic Committee had good research data and analysis. It knew what it had to do: get out the supportive publics who don’t typically vote in an offyear election. The committee knew the profiles of the publics it had to reach. Yet the committee designed a message that did not specifically ask those publics to do what needed to be done. The committee also sent the message in a broadly targeted tactic through a mass medium ill-suited to the purpose at hand — reaching and motivating highly segmented publics. Each step of the matrix planning process must build on the previous step. The logic must flow consistently and coherently. Disregarding the information accumu­ lated, the decisions made and the actions planned in one step will almost always ensure that the decisions made and actions planned in the subsequent step are off target and headed for failure. With this important lesson in mind, the next few chapters address the action planning steps of the Strategic Communications Planning Matrix. This chapter be­ gins that discussion with identifying what needs to be done to meet the challenge or to seize the opportunity at hand. Establishing goals Once the core problem or opportunity is accurately established, setting the goal is a simple task. The goal is actually a positive restatement of the core problem. If your challenge is declining confidence among investors leading to a decline in stock price, your goal is to reestablish confidence and boost your stock price. If your chapter 5 Setting goals and objectives 81 problem is a lack of accurate information regarding the process of organ donation, thereby causing a shortage of available organs for transplant, your goal is to increase the number of organs donated by overcoming misperceptions about the process. The goal should be broader and more general 

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