Note: This is a multipart series discussing some of the lessons learned from attending the Advanced PIO Course at FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute in Emmitsburg, MD. I attended the course in February 2018.
Strategic communications is a thing.
I would never call myself a planner. I am someone who loves to dream up a fun idea and then just go do it. There is so much satisfaction in seeing creativity come to life rapidly.
I always had a sense that planning is important, but that it is so easy to plan yourself to death and never get anything done.
The first time I felt that I could be an advocate for planning came during an emergency management exercise a few years ago. During the exercise, I received a request for a certain type of news release. And lo and behold, I had a pre-scripted version of that news release ready to go. I just had to change a few details. The amount of time that one pre-scripted news saved woke me up to the possibilities.
Fast forward to 2018 in Emmitsburg.
In the new E388 – Advanced PIO Course (see upcoming offerings here), the instructors really hammer home the need for strategic communications planning. They take you through the process step-by-step so that you can fully assess the situation, and set SMART goals, identify your audiences and tailor specific messages to them.
During the week, I saw strategic planning work. And I began finding myself making a strategic plan for certain things that I could do once I returned to work. Here’s a picture of a strategic plan I started drafting for conducting outreach to our Spanish-speaking community in my state:
When I returned to work, I met with a co-worker who is struggling with a project and asked for help. And I found myself suddenly taking her through the strategic planning cycle. We identified a mission, set goals, identified the audiences, and identified the messages those audiences would need. So now, the next step is to develop the materials for those audiences. And the stuff we are working on… it’s pretty exciting.
Hearing the strategic planning guidance come out of my mouth made me realize that I am now converting to someone who plans and who relishes a good plan. And if I can be someone who uses that plan as a map to accomplish great things, so can you.
How about you? What has strategic planning done for you? If you have plans you are willing to share, we can make them available here and give you a nice shoutout.