Your Communications Measurement Reading List for October 2018



As we get into the fourth quarter, it’s time to start thinking about planning for the coming year. Rather than jumping from project to project, a communications plan provides guidelines to follow, outlines key goals, and connects the work back to business objectives. Planning for a whole year, however, can be a challenge, as communicators need to review data from the previous year and plan work to be spread out across a variety of channels.

An important part of the planning process includes outlining the budget required to implement plans and achieve business goals. Whether your budget includes paid social ads, event sponsorships, influencer campaigns, or even just the staff time spent creating the work, communications requires some spending. Budgeting comes with its own variety of challenges, including calculating the right number and the pressure to keep budgets small.

The articles on this month’s list cover topics to help your team as we enter planning and budgeting season, including working within the constraints of limited budgets, new tactics for successful planning sessions, and why planning in reverse could be beneficial.


Communications professionals know it’s important to have a PR plan in place, especially before the beginning of a new year or quarter, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. What are the crucial elements of a good PR plan? Every plan should begin by outlining PR goals and connecting those back to larger goals within your organization. Pulse Marketing Agency outlines nine more steps to creating a successful public relations plan.

Imagine being dropped into a city without your phone, a GPS, or a map. It’d be pretty hard to navigate and find your way around. This is what it’s like when professionals try to run their organizations without a PR plan. Communicators tend to favor tactics over strategies, but a well-developed plan is necessary to define goals and drive growth. In this Spin Sucks article, Gini Dietrich describes the 13 things every agency should have in their communications plan, tips for creating a prospect list, and additional business development tactics.

Before beginning a project with a new client, communicators need to engage in thoughtful planning. According to Solo PR Pro, the planning process should start with gathering necessary information and asking clients the right questions, as this provides the outline for the work to be done and the anticipated outcomes. Solo PR Pro’s guide describes the three key questions communicators should ask specifically during the social media planning process.

The summer months, especially the last few weeks of August, tend to be a slower time for businesses, as people get out of the office to take advantage of the remaining nice weather. During the fourth quarter, this slower pace is replaced by an influx of business activity. As we move further into October, organizations are going to be gearing up for campaigns to achieve their goals before the end of this year. Before you get too wrapped up in work, check out this guide for planning for the coming busy season.

When your organization decides to implement a new campaign, how does your team begin its planning process? It probably involves step-by-step guidelines required to reach your ultimate goal. Rather than planning from beginning to end, consider planning in reverse. Jooyoung Park, an assistant professor at Peking University HSBC Business School, explains what backwards planning is and how it could contribute to achieving our goals with greater success.

Do you ever walk away from brainstorm meetings wishing your team had accomplished more? It can be challenging to organize the opinions and ideas of a variety of people into a concise plan. Next time you have to produce some ideas for a new campaign or project, try one of these 15 creative exercises that will allow you to think outside the box and create more thoughtful, comprehensive ideas.

Our September Video of the Month featured a TED Talk by Daniel Levitin about the pre-mortem and how this concept can be used to plan for stressful situations. In this Harvard Business Review article from more than 10 years ago, psychologist Gary Klein discusses the origins of this planning method, as well as how it can identify a project’s risks at the outset and enhance the chance of it succeeding.

A successful communications plan should include a content calendar for the various properties an organization publishes content on, including social media. These calendars allow communicators to establish a regular posting schedule, prioritize important dates, find the right mix of content, and effectively use time and resources. This Hootsuite guide explains how to create a content calendar, offers examples, and provides templates.

Is your organization looking to add something new into the mix of content it shares? Hosting an AMA, ask me anything, session could be the perfect way to engage with audiences, share information about upcoming announcements, and connect members of your organization with potential customers. Unlike more scripted content, AMA sessions give consumers a better understanding of a brand on a more casual level. Social Media Examiner provides a step-by-step guide for planning an AMA experience.


Time and budgets are often tight for communications departments. Despite the limited time in a professionals’ day and money in their budgets, communicators must balance creating content to populate various accounts, publishing posts, and engaging with audiences. Additionally, measurement of social media activity should be part of your organization’s social strategies. Although this can be a challenge to fit into that limited time and budget, meaningful measurement provides the insight professionals need to assess what tactics are working and make informed decisions. This guide from PRNews explains how to measure social media efforts without a large budget.

Influencer campaigns can be an expensive investment, but they don’t have to be. Typically, the more followers an influencer has, the more they will charge as a fee to create sponsored posts. Just because an account has a lot of followers, however, does not mean they’re going to produce posts that reach and resonate with your key audiences. Rather than choosing the influencer with the highest number of followers, consider how an influencer with a small but engaged following and/or those with a niche following could benefit your brand. This PR Daily post discusses the concept of micro-influencers and gives tips for executing an effective influencer campaign without a massive budget.

Communicators use the word “brand” often, but what do we really mean when we say this? Rachna Baruah defines it as an amalgamation of a company’s vision, their identity in the market, employees, company culture, and sales. There is a constant desire for companies to improve their brand and customers’ awareness of it, often through marketing activities. Although organizations can pour tons of money into their marketing and communications campaigns, it doesn’t have to be expensive to improve your audience’s experience with your brand. Try these marketing strategies and tactics that require little to no budget.

Do you feel like your organization’s marketing and communications costs are getting out of hand? Marketing work doesn’t have to cost your organization tons of money to be effective. Forbes asked 15 members of its Communications Council for tips on trimming a marketing budget. Check out their advice, including how to use existing resources and implementing meaningful measurement to track the success of communications work.

Budgeting and planning can be a challenging process, but it’s essential to outline the goals and strategize on how to deliver value to your organization. According to Christopher Penn, “budgeting is forecasting and forecasting is prediction.” Penn explains that the budgeting process should start with two specific sets of data. Watch Penn’s full video to learn how to handle these data sets and how predictive analytics contributes to an effective, data-driven budgeting process.

In 2017, organizations spent an average of 39 percent of their total marketing budget on customer-centric content. Although this allows organizations to engage with an audience of potential leads and existing customers, 27 percent of marketers cite budgeting problems as a major barrier to their content efforts. Budgeting for content marketing can be challenging since it’s tough to produce immediate results that contribute to business goals, but it’s more cost effective than other advertising and triggers emotions in customers that can contribute to sales. Check out these nine ways to produce quality content with a smaller budget.