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In preparation for communications planning, think through and write down answers to as many of the following questions as possible.
- When did project start?
- Who was instrumental in starting/participating?
- What precipitated their involvement?
- What goals were set for program and by whom? The community?
- What areas/people/organizations were involved?
- Are they still? Why or why not?
- Are there any key historical issues?
Do you have a vision statement? - (get a copy)
What are your goals and priorities?
How is your group organized/who chairs/leads?
Formal or informal structures?
Where is project housed?
How is information given to community?
How do you reach out to community?
What kind of community support do you have - "in-kind, volunteer"?
What kind of key community leader and stakeholder involvement do you have?
Who is actively involved?
With who do you actively come in contact?
Was buy-in for supporters easy or tough? How do you handle barriers and objections?
What are people saying about your program in the community?
- A description of the problem - where is the need? Data to support need?
- Who is affected by the issues/services you address and how?
- Please share past and current user demographic data.
- Who is interested in the problem?
- Which organizations in the community are already addressing the problem?
- Are there any market trends to consider?
- Have the local media been doing anything on this issue?
- What could individual media outlets do to help?
- Who are your potential allies/partners? Do they know/like/respect your organization and its efforts?
- What can your board of directors, volunteers, and members, service recipients or departments tell you about how your organization is perceived in the community?
- A list of existing programs/activities and gaps in services that exist - and what organizations have goals that coincide with your own.
- Do you have a list of current media contacts?
- Please share copies of all past communications tools, materials or records you have available.
- How do you describe your service/product?
- What benefits do you offer? (strengths)
- What benefits do you feel you lack? (weaknesses)
- What is your current position/image?
- What image do you want to convey?
- Who are your target audiences- be specific?
- What is their profile?
- Where are they located?
- What are the best methods of communication with your target audiences?
- What are barriers to product/service use or participation?
- What are the best strategies for gaining and keeping participants/customers?
- Who are your competitors? What are their strengths? Their weaknesses?
- What are their strategies?
- What is the position to take relative to competition?
- What strategies were selected in the past? Why?
- What resources were secured or leveraged through the process?
- What resources do you have available now for implementation?
- How are those resources being allocated?
- What resources do you lack? Time, materials, money?
- What is the current progress towards your goals?
- What benchmarks or evaluation mechanisms were used?
- How do you measure response to marketing activities?
- Is there a feedback loop for course corrections and improvements?
- What have been the short-term results?
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