When it comes to an effective communications strategy, the first place to start is with a well-organized and detailed calendar. It doesn’t matter if the calendar is digital, on paper, a whiteboard or Post-it. What does matter is how the calendar is used.
Why is the calendar so important? Because everything we do has a deadline. Veterans Day is approaching so how are the parade or dinner plans coming? How is the promotion of your posts events for the day coming along? Have you sent out a press release to notify your community?
Whether you’re at the post, district or department level, you need to start with a calendar. Grab the free calendar distributed by Emblem Sales, open Microsoft Word and print a calendar template, or download one from the Internet.
Where to begin
Step one: Begin with your meetings at the post, district and department level. Find the date and write the description of the event, time and place. Second, list all known planned events, the time and place that are scheduled. Third, list the important holidays your post, district and department recognize for the year.
Step two: Take each even written on the calendar and count backward and mark 14 days, 30 days, 45 days, 60 days and 90 days out. A suggestion is that you use a different color pen to indicate that an event is coming up. Why so many reminders? It depends on what must happen for the event. If you need to invite the mayor to your Veterans Day dinner than you may want to consider sending the invite 90 days before. It will also depend on what your media strategy for each event calls for that you should have written out when planning.
Because you are thinking about these events further out with your calendar, it creates a successful promotion.
Step three: Using a different color from the other events, write down the dates when your post newsletter article is due, the deadline for submitting stories to your local paper, and the deadlines for everyone you must send a press release to.
While these dates are not connected to your events, as you use different colors on your calendar you will see that based on deadlines of newspapers and such, 14 days may have to be moved to 20 days, depending on where dates fall.
Hang the calendar on the wall and have three months visible so it can serve as a reminder.
Make friends with the calendar
Don’t fear the deadlines, embrace them and never miss another one again. Stay on top of your calendar and you will stay on top of your communications strategy.