The end of summer can be a precarious time when it comes to communications strategy planning. A lot of our clients put it off because they don’t have their final plan decisions. And they believe they need them in order to get us going down the path of planning. But it’s just not the case.

Yes, absolutely, we need to know what’s going on so we can target the right audiences, embrace the right tactics, and develop messaging accordingly… BUT, there’s lots to talk about before any of that even happens. That’s why we bug our clients early—well before they’ve gotten approval to move forward from management committees. We know there are ways to get ahead of the game, so when the collective thumbs up come in, we’re ready to hit the ground running.

If you’re playing the waiting game right now, perhaps the things we focus on can help you get moving as well. They are as follows:

  • Who are the players? After all, no man is an island when it comes to developing employee benefit communications that matter. If you can answer the following questions, you’re in good shape: Who’s in charge of communications planning? Will you handle that internally or will you need outside help (e.g., printers, designers, translation specialists, voice-over talent, us)? If you need to work with vendors, who are they and have you engaged their services or at least given them a heads up?
  • What resources do you need to get the job done? I’m talking in terms of manpower, time, and dollars. If you don’t think you have or can get what you need, come up with a contingency plan for creating and executing on strategy. While it’s nice to have a lot of bells and whistles, it’s not always necessary. Sometimes a simple postcard, benefits brochure, and narrated video presentation can get the job done—at least in the short term. Think about what would work best inside your organization, lay out all your ideas, and whittle them down to the basics if necessary.
  • What are best practices inside your organization? How will you share information with your various populations? What have you seen that really works? Consider where employees are and reach them there. For example, if most people sit in front of a computer, email can work just fine. If they operate in a retail or manufacturing environment, you may need to go a different route—like video, a brochure bulk-shipped to locations, or a fact sheet for managers to distribute on the floor. Don’t rule out a postcard to home if most of your employees are men since research tells us the female spouse makes most of the benefits decisions. You’ll never reach everybody with one approach so be prepared to understand your employees’ needs and demographics, and communicate several times, several different ways to improve your odds.
  • How would employees like to receive information? Do you have any feedback—either anecdotally and/or from an employee survey—to inform your strategy? If so, now’s the time to pull it out of a drawer and keep it within easy grasp. Because once you get down to brass tacks, you’ll need those results to inform how you forge ahead in terms of tactics.

As you can see, there’s a lot to keep you busy while you wait for decisions to be blessed. So get started with these four things, if you haven’t already. And if you need help, you know who to call (hint: me!).

Good luck!

Jill Sherer Murray

Written by Jill Sherer Murray

As practice leader, Jill has built an award-winning communications practice inside a global consulting firm, and continues to grow the business and the team. She oversees the strategic vision and day-to-day activities in developing employee benefits education and engagement strategies.

Trion Communications jill.murray@trion-mma.com