When you planned content for 2020, did you pencil in a pandemic, rampant wildfires, and an overactive hurricane season? (Stop laughing.)
Sometimes, in our rush to respond to a crisis (or crises), key messages get lost. While it’s important to be able to adapt to shifting communication needs, a content plan gives your channels a solid foundation. We all need something to lean on.
Meet Prepare Yourself, a 2021 content planning guide for public power and broadband communicators. Use this tool to stay ahead, focus on topics that matter to your leadership, and improve message cohesion across your communication channels.
4 Ways to Prepare Yourself for 2021
A content planner brings all of your communication channel planning into one place (website, social media, magazine, newsletter, on-hold message, bill insert, etc.). Our planning guide breaks this down into four areas: key messages, local pages, bill inserts, and a full 2021 calendar of engagement opportunities.
1. List Key Messages
Start planning by listing up to 6 key messages you need to cover in 2021. These messages can come from a strategic plan or directives from your utility leadership. Maybe you’re launching a program, or you want to increase participation in a service. These messages are your communication goals for the year. Pick a month (or 2) to showcase each message, and check off which channels you can use to engage consumers.
2. Plan Local Pages
Once you know what you must talk about in 2021, use our local pages worksheet to brainstorm ideas for your magazine or newsletter content. If you don’t already use an editorial calendar, this can be a great tool to help you plan stories in advance. We offer a few types of content (news, feature, testimonial, editorial) to get you started. If you like this approach and want to expand it into a full editorial planning spreadsheet, you can get a spreadsheet version of the tool here
3. Work Ahead on Bill Inserts
When I worked at an electric distribution co-op, we had up to three inserts mailed with each bill. I remember months when we were scrambling to design a new insert and would fall back on what was easily available.
Bill inserts are not like features, requiring interviews and photography. If you think about them in advance and align the content with your key messages, you can create most (if not all) of your bill inserts for the year at once.
With that goal in mind, use your key messages to brainstorm what type of bill inserts you’ll need throughout 2021. We suggest four kinds of content (news, rebate/promotion, testimonial, and event). Pencil in what you can promote throughout the year, then get a head start on designing the content either in-house or with an agency such as WordSouth.
4. Track Engagement Opportunities
The last (but best) part of the guide is a calendar for 2021, complete with a list of month-long observances and celebrations related to our industry. Use the dates to plan local page content, staff celebrations, and social media posts.
There are more hashtag holidays than days in the year. Instead of listing all of them (go to the Days of the Year website for holiday overload), we curated a list of dates and engagement ideas for broadband and public power utilities.
As you look ahead, remember to add important local dates to your content planner:
- Utility Meetings
- Parades and Fairs
- Consumer Appreciation Days
- Community Festivals and Events
- Regional Back to School Dates
- Community Sporting Events
If you’re like me, having a plan (fueled by lots of caffeine) makes the future feel more manageable. We hope our planning guide, Prepare Yourself, will help you plan ahead for 2021. We walked through the guide in a November webinar; you can see the recording here.
Our planning guide will evolve as we learn more about ways we can support you. Have a holiday or event we should add? Please let us know. As a communications co-op, we all win when we work together to strengthen our community!