Why you should never develop a website without a communications plan

websitesHaving worked for organisations of all types and sizes over the years, I’ve come across various strange practices when it comes to communications planning.

I’ve seen a range of companies focus on what they see as ‘quick wins’ in order to save money. For example, they decide they need a new website or enhanced SEO. They buy in the service they think they need to get the communications channels improved.

But because these channels are developed in isolation from each other and not part of any wider communications plan, the inevitable happens – they fail to deliver. It’s a bit like building a new house and laying bricks without using an architects’ plan. You just don’t do it.

Improving communications channels, one-by-one like this, without a communications plan, leads to mixed messages and inconsistent branding, not to mention the time and cost of having to put it straight after it’s all gone wrong.

Websites are a good example. I came across a small company that realised its website was badly out of date. But instead of reviewing its content or public relations strategy it just got the website redone. So they then had a shiny new website but guess what? Three months later and their content was out of date again and still unaligned to business objectives.

So why would a small business do that? Perhaps they wanted to keep costs down and this seemed like a logical step-by-step approach which didn’t involve too much initial outlay. It is possible, after all, to use the website as the test-bed for content and messaging and then to roll that out to other channels.

Does it really work out like that though? Rarely, I would say, as that is not usually the intention. Instead the channels end up having different owners and authors, different content styles are used, and cross-channel content becomes a miscellaneous hotchpotch of ideas with conflicting purposes.

So what can you do about it? Get some communications advice for a start. Also get yourself a communications plan. This will help you to co-ordinate your communications activities, prioritise which ones to focus on and ensure they align to your business goals. You’ll also save money in the long run. There are plenty of good communications agencies and practitioners around that can help – just make sure you shop around.

Want help now? Contact david@wardcomms.co.uk or visit www.wardcomms.co.uk

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