Time to Go Deep: Developing an Annual Communications Strategy

Please allow us to go full-geek communicator for a moment to discuss the art of creating an annual communication strategy. A dry topic? A task that makes you drag your heels? Not for people like us. It’s an amazing opportunity to dive deep into the business, anticipate the news and information employees will need, and proactively map out a 12-month schedule of communication.

Throughout our careers, we’ve had opportunities to create annual communication strategies for both small start-ups and large corporations. No matter the size and scope of the company, the full-year strategy is built around the same two foundational elements: the company’s existing business strategies and the operational milestones that support those plans.

This business rhythm serves as the anchor for your communication strategy, and should include the following types of calendared events:

  • Financial disclosures: quarterly results, budget deadlines, fiscal year milestones
  • Leadership updates: executive and board meetings, strategy sessions, decision deadlines
  • Program plans and deadlines: progress reports and presentations, customer-facing events

By understanding the timing of these business events, we can build a calendar that creates a logical flow of information to employees – providing them with up-to-date content as progress is made and decisions are made.

Then we focus on the specific business strategies – the annual financial plan, marketing strategy, executive priorities, operational programs and so on – to start earmarking the content to be communicated, ensuring the information comes together for employees in collaborative, complementary and understandable ways.

Once your framework is firmly tethered to the business activities and you’ve broadly sketched out the critical content, the real fun begins: mapping out the specifics tactics you will use to disseminate information throughout the year.

For instance, do the decisions flowing from the board become a mandatory topic for managers to discuss at team meetings? Do the leaders of each fiscal year priority give a progress report at the monthly company meeting? Is the CEO’s quarterly strategy memo followed by an intranet video from the CFO offering greater context on the financial results?

Do it right, and the annual communication strategy also serves as the basis for a Communication team’s priorities and goals for the year, as well as the roadmap for each company communication vehicle’s editorial calendar.

One strategy – a year’s worth of forethought and business integration. No wonder we love this stuff.


To see other examples of our work, go to Mini Case Studies.

Categories: Mini Case Studies

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