Edwards School of Business Student Consulting
COMM 300: Business Communications II
Strategic Communications Plan
Instructor: Isobel Findlay, Susan McDonald, and Neil Balan
The Strategic Communications Plan (SCP) is a project for third-year students enrolled in COMM 300 in the University of Saskatchewan's Edwards School of Business. Based on industry and stakeholder research and business knowledge shared by the client, student groups create an SCP for the client that includes a situation analysis, objectives , targeted audiences, key messages, strategy (including tactics, responsibilities, timelines, and costs), and measures of success. The SCP focuses on external communications in the Saskatoon market and may be comprehensive in scope (day-to-day actions and relationships, including public relations) or focused (corporate social responsibility, crisis communications, environmental policies, diversity awareness). Each student group presents its recommendations in a formal report; clients are free to use any or all of the SCP recommendations.
Clients should be local businesses or non-profit organizations that could benefit from outside help on their external communications. Student groups will recommend the best ways to spend the existing budget. It is helpful if clients have a specific communications objective in mind for the SCP, such as increasing sales or the number of volunteers, but groups can work with clients to develop these objectives. Depending on the business/organization and industry and objectives, the SCP usually covers a period of one year.
Clients should be open to sharing with students information about their organizations relevant to the SCPs. This can include information such as an understanding of its customers and the effectiveness of previous communications efforts. A representative of the client may attend the student presentations of the SCPs scheduled in the last week of term
Clients receive an invaluable benefit from the project: a group of five hard-working senior students focusing their attention on your organization. Students write reports detailing the key situational factors affecting the business or organization and the SCP objectives, the target market it should be pursuing, the specific messages that would likely resonate with the audience, the channels or media the organization should use to reach that target (according to what schedule and cost and subject to whose responsibility in the organization), as well as success measures indicating how your organization will know if the SCP has achieved its goals. At the end of the final presentations, clients should have any remaining questions answered-and a strong basis for a cost-effective SCP for the next year or more.
Because the SCP focuses on strategy, the creative materials are limited to recommendations. Implementation is left to the client. That is, the words and ideas will be finished, but ads or web content or pamphlets will not be ready to send to the media or printers. Clients have no responsibility for assigning grades.
Students learn immeasurably from designing an SCP within the constraints of the real world. Students learn to apply academic theory to actual situations and find out what options are possible within realistic budgets. Students also enjoy working with clients; clients tend to provide an enthusiastic audience when the final presentations offer them innovative solutions.
Previous clients have included V Photographic, McNally Robinson Booksellers, Saskatoon Community Clinic.
If you are interested in having students produce an SCP for your business or organization, please contact Dr. Isobel M. Findlay, Associate Professor, Management and Marketing at firstname.lastname@example.org