'I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.' - Albert Einstein
Clients today demand greater Return on Investment from communications. Meanwhile, production agencies want to 'move up the food chain' - not simply providing technical and creative resources but solutions that truly support an organisation's business goals.
This is where communication strategy comes in. I help clients and agencies to underpin creativity with sound strategic thinking.
Clients talk about setting KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). In essence what this means is 'how will I know it has worked?' - ie. the holy grail we are all after - effective communication. And that, of course, includes measurement & evaluation I find it's useful to begin by focusing on that elusive spot where the needs of the client meets the demands of the audience. So, I might start the conversation with some really simple questions like:
who is your audience?
what do they think about the subject now?
what do you want them to think?
what do you want them to feel?
what do you want them to do?
Many clients already have an overarching communications strategy but still value a strategic approach to an area of the creative execution. Others need a full-on communications plan.
An example of this was Defence 2004 for the Army. Following the end of the Royal Tournament each of the Armed Forces took it in turn to lead a public activity for a year.
As 2004 approached the Army appointed Shelton Fleming to work with them to develop a face-to-face communication strategy and I was Communications Director in this team. It was a fascinating experience. First, we got to know the Army - an extraordinary organisation and culture.
Then we began asking questions. Who are we trying to reach? When might they be available? Where are the main audience concentrations? How could we feed data about them into the Army's contact system? How should we best work with the Army's other agencies? What is the best way to market the events? And perhaps, most importantly, what kind of experience should we offer? We devised a creative concept which was then market-tested.
I wrote two reports which gave COI, the Government's marketing communications agency, the information they needed to run an industry implementation tender. Sadly the events never happened as the Iraq War intervened but 'nothing is wasted' - several years later we used some of the key insights for the development of an innovative retail format that gave the Army a fresh presence on the high street.