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Neuger CO.LAB Recap: Planning Your 2021 Communications

December 9, 2020

At our December CO.LAB webinar session we offered expert insights on 2021 communications planning by hosting a panel of marketing communications experts. The following recap of our discussion will give you some tips on how to outline an engaging and flexible 2021 communications plan despite the unpredictability of today’s world.

Session 16 Panelists

Dave Neuger, President & CEO at Neuger

Jackie Johnson, Owner & Chief Strategist at Johnson House Creative LLC

Christine Lekatz, VP & Senior Communications Counselor at Neuger


  • Communication plans are more than just creating ads or sending out social posts and seeing who interacts with them – there are many aspects of planning that influence the overall success of your efforts. Some key stages of planning include:
    • Establishing S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timed) goals and defining what success will look like
    • Audience/customer research
    • Calculation of budgets based on end goals
    • Evaluation of available resources and potential channels
    • Development of strategies and tactics tied to objectives
    • Establishing a plan for measurement, including the frequency of measurement and reporting to set expectations with leadership and key stakeholders.
  •  Use the TVO formula: traffic, value, offer. The preliminary work for traffic is understanding where your audience regularly consumes content. The value represents what you offer that connects your audience with what they need. Determine what your audience desires, and be the bridge for them while breaking down the benefits of choosing your services over others. The offer comes with the bridge of trust you’ve established with your audience. Ensure they are making the right decision by driving home your organization’s mission.
  • Don’t shy away from being collaborative with similar organizations or even your target audiences. Surveys and customer satisfaction reports can tell intricate stories about what is/isn’t working within your plan.
  • Finding ways to reach people with physical items such as direct mailings or promotional items goes a long way. People enjoy receiving physical content, especially during the pandemic.
  • Create a customer journey map to ensure that you are reaching customers in multiple stages.
Customer Journey

Discussion Questions

Q: How do you solidify a realistic communications goal for 2021?

There are several elements to creating a successful communications plan during an unpredictable year. Make sure you understand your organization’s communications plan and overall objective so there is consistency with messaging. Ensure that your goals are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timed. There are several types of goals you can set, as well. An activity goal allows you to determine how many times you interact with your audience on a weekly basis. It is important to identify key performance indicators (KPI) to measure engagement levels with your content and how that trickles into actually increasing your revenue.

Q: Since the pandemic, what has changed about customer engagement and behavior? What can we expect when things return to “normal”?

Social listening and engagement tracking of your audience will give you a clear direction for how to adapt. On top of that, monitor what other companies are doing and what kind of public response they receive. Adaptation heavily relies on observation. Having a team that consistently keeps tabs on trends and audience behaviors will help remold your plan to fit within the confines of today’s sporadic market. Your website is the center point for all communication and influence. Frequently update your website with relevant content and dialogue (blogs, webinars, case studies, focus groups, etc.). A final and critical tip for adapting to this year’s circumstances is to guarantee to your audience that you are following CDC guidelines.


We hope that our experience will give you clear examples of what to consider when developing an action plan for 2021 communications. Thank you for joining us, and happy holidays!