skee ballIt’s an all-too-familiar scenario for communications directors in nonprofits everywhere: a colleague walks into your office and says, “I need a press release/web site/viral social media campaign!”

While it can be frustrating to be asked to jump in on tactics at the last minute, communicators should actually rejoice at this request for help. Because it means that our colleagues see the value-added that communications can bring to their work, and want to engage communications support for their efforts. The communicators’ job, then, is to help our colleagues weave their enthusiasm into solid strategy.

Here are the three powerful questions we use to help clients reverse engineer tactics into strategy: “That’s a really interesting engagement opportunity/tool/campaign. What’s the message it will to carry? To whom? And to what end?”

With those power questions, you’ve just helped your colleague create a solid Communications GAME Plan:

Goals – What are you trying to achieve through communications? And how will you know you’ve achieved it?

Audience – Who needs to be engaged toward the above goal? Who has the power to get it done? And who influences them?

Message – What are we saying to move the audience toward the goal? Is the call to action as clear as can be? Does the message anticipate – and overcome – potential obstacles to engagement?

Engagement – What channels and tools will we use to engage the audience in conversation about our message toward the goal?

Often, folks want to start with engagement, because it’s the most tangible element of a communications effort. But successful engagement starts with solid strategy. The GAME Plan is a practical, intuitive approach to ensure all your organization’s communications efforts are aligned around smart strategy.


 Image courtesy of Flickr user Val D’Aquila

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Holly MinchHolly Minch, LightBox Collaborative’s founding partner, has reverse-engineered strategy for countless clients and campaigns.