Communicators are always under pressure to produce results despite limited resources. For instance, Trisha, a subscriber to my newsletter, emailed me last week to ask my advice on this. There is no easy way around this issue. With a given budget, the best a communicator can do is to make the most effective use of available resources. One way to do this is to tightly target your information material. Content analysis is a simple, no-cost way to check that you are focusing on the messages that matter. This will enable you to make the most of your important messages and create a strong message strategy in campaigns.
One way to ensure your messages are on target is to review your printed or online publications to ensure their content contains the important information and messages that should be included. This method is logical and quite well known, but it is surprising how many people in the flurry of their daily activity don’t get around to it.
You can review each internal or external newsletter or other publications produced over the past several months or the whole year to date. In fact, content analysis can be conducted on newspapers and magazines, speeches and interviews, web content and social media posts, as well as photographs and films.
Some objectives or programs may not have been covered enough in relation to their importance. If significant material has been omitted during that period, you can make amends by covering it in future issues.
Drawing up a matrix will help you to systematically review the publications in question. Start by listing all the messages the publication should be reinforcing, such as the key elements of your organizational mission, annual goals and objectives, corporate values and specific new programs.
The ideal content can be identified through discussions with key corporate and line managers. Each issue of the publication can be checked to measure the number of column centimeters/inches (including photos and headlines) that have addressed each key message. You may want to express each measurement as a percentage of the column area in the publication. Some possible areas to measure:
Also check that sufficient coverage is given to each business unit or location. To help plan future issues of publications, the number of column centimeters/inches for reactive articles reporting on events can be compared with proactive articles preparing employees for change.
You can also do similar analysis of other material such as media releases, speeches and annual reports to ensure relevant topics, themes, positioning messages etc have been given the desired amount of coverage.
If you review your past publication content in this way, you will increase the effectiveness of your work.
Also read my article “How to create compelling key messages” for helpful guidance on developing great core messages.
By Silvia Arto, Vice President of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, Chair of the European Regional
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