The Modern Communications Plan Should Include A List Of Things NOT To Do

Continuing our modern communications planning series, we turn to the next section called The “We Won’t” list. This list is simply a list of things you will not get into until it makes sense or it’s better than other ideas. (This idea is blatantly borrowed from Tom Peter’s “To Don’t” List idea.) I renamed it “We Won’t” because most communications plans are by organizations involving many people executing the plan.

In today’s fast paced world, the pull to try every new shiny object is great. Resist. Note that this is not a call to stop exploring new ideas. In fact, you should be checking out everything that is proving to be well used, a best practice and on-the-surface workable. Explore away. Just don’t set yourself up for failure by putting things on paper that you will never have the resources, inclination or justification to do.

Rather, start by brainstorming every communication idea, channel, and strategy that seems – at first blush – a really good idea to at least consider. Now take an objective look at that list.

  • Which ones are most closely aligned with your goals (meaning, you will be able to fairly easily communicate to them there, in that way, with that strategy)?
  • Which ones are “nice to have?”
  • Which ones are the “cool kid on the block” that you believe you should explore but can’t quite justify yet?
  • Which ones make complete sense?
  • Which ones are proven but don’t quite fit your audience or your goals?

Start adding those things that you could do, but which you know won’t get you to where you want to be, to the “We Won’t” list.

I am not saying every unproven idea is a bad one. Rather, take the route that William Buffet did when investing. If you can’t see a future in it, pause and see if one can be made. Assess the risk, especially against the strategies and channels (and resources you have!) that you know will work. If they don’t stack up, walk away.

Expect internal pushback on this activity. Expect a lot of inner dialogue and second guessing yourself. Just remember that this list isn’t concrete. Things do change. I mean, who could have predicted Pinterest would take off so much in the last few months? (If you are an interior design company, in the food industry, or sell fashion, you better be paying attention).

But, do go through this exercise and name a few things to take off the table. It will keep you focused on what makes sense for your vision, goals and objectives. And, having a written list will remind you of why you are doing what you chose to be doing.