Embarking on a big picture communication project? Here are some tips to help you steer what could potentially be a transformative experience both for your audience and your career.
Clarify your goals
A good brief is essential to get the ball rolling but if you’re pressed for time,don’t feel the need to produce a written brief under pressure. Your time is better spent talking to your internal stakeholders about the project. Try to get a sense of what their individual goals are, how they could pitch in and where the potential barriers could be. This is also a good time to internally align the bigger picture goals with that of each individual – getting their buy-in at an early stage could be the difference between a smooth sailing project and a tsunami of political head butts. Once the consultation is over, it’s a good time to go through a briefing with your supplier / agency who can listen objectively to your findings and help clarify your project’s goals and outcomes.
Articulate your message
No doubt you have a strong sense of what your message is, but the value of refining and testing this with an ‘outsider’ is priceless. If your supplier / agency doesn’t insist on defining your key message early on, forget it. The key message is the manuscript that will hold your orchestra together, without it, your project will just be noise. Understand who you need to reach and what language or stimulus are required to make your audience connect more freely. What is the ‘call-to-action’? What emotions do you want to evoke? All of these factors need to be incorporated into your message in some way. And remember, just because you’ve used a message in the past, doesn’t mean it’s the right one. Let your supplier / agency give you a fresh take on your message.
Define an approach
This is where the mundane can turn magical, and your impact can become inspirational. Defining the detail around the way you can tell your story and transform your audience is the most difficult yet exciting stage of the project. Be prepared for tough decisions, compromises and confrontations – all in the aim of producing the right environment to carry your message and achieving your goals. The possibilities are endless yet there is an unwavering discipline required to endure this creative process to see it through from concept to fruition. Learn to trust the expertise of your supplier / agency in designing a concept for you. Although this may be a once-in-a-career, never-done-before project for you, it’s what these people do every day. Make sure you check out their past projects and client testimonials for peace of mind.
Set clear expectations
Of course, as the client, you’re in total control – nothing can be actioned without your approval. Keep an open mind but by all means, use this power to clearly define your expectations, and know where any potential limitations to these may lie in the project. Be clear about whether you’re comfortable with these limitations, and if not, what additional resources are required to overcome them. There should be no surprises. Take every opportunity to pressure test the proposed design with your supplier / agency so that you’re clear with the expected outcomes.
Launch, launch and launch again
Nothing’s tougher than selling to your internal audience but getting their buy-in is crucial to the success of your external launch. Utilise the support services that may be on offer from your supplier / agency – training, information sessions, technical support, content management – whatever it takes to get them over the line to become advocates for your project.