IN TALKING ABOUT strategic communications, we tend to focus our attention on the final outputs and ultimate consumers of the content: a report to our donor; a radio spot for a group of farmers; a fact sheet to a government official.
But there is a lot of intermediary work that goes into producing these final products.
I was reminded of this recently when organizing some old files. Countless tables, outlines, hand written notes, meetings summaries, and half-written paragraphs. These documents were by-products of the in-between; the internal process of translating ideas into external products.
One such written piece stood out.
It was a planning document for a nationally broadcast public service announcement (PSA). The document aggregated important considerations (timing, frequency, dissemination windows, budget, etc.) that would influence our broadcasting plan.
I developed the document because, after a third meeting discussing the same issues, we hadn’t arrived at any decisions. We were stuck.
The document proved to be exactly what we needed. Why?
It structured our approach. It moved us away from the dreaded ‘discussion trap’ – the endless cycle of talking about a decision – and towards making concrete decisions. The next time we met, we systematically worked through the document and developed a formal scope of work. The document had taken ten minutes to develop.
The document was not effective because it was “right”; it did not contain the answers. It was effective because it framed a process which what was needed in the immediate-term. In this case, that was a structured conversation about what considerations go into developing a scope of work for a broadcasting contract. Simple. Nothing more, nothing less.
Interestingly, the document was never formally completed. It didn’t need to be. The process of writing was enough. These decisions were reflected in a scope of work draft, which was subsequently embedded into a larger request for proposal (RFP).
Writing is an exercise in organizing our thoughts. Organizing our thoughts positions us better throughout the planning and production process.
It was an important reminder: when in doubt, just keep writing.
Thanks for reading.