It’s the same scenario every year. You return to the office after a relaxing Labor Day weekend and what is waiting for you? A memo from the boss informing you that the first drafts of budgets are due on Friday.
That’s right, in four days. So you scramble to pull together something that reflects your goals for the coming year, and in doing so at warp speed, you neglect to build in funding for new programs or expansion of current ones.
And let’s not forget that this year will be even more challenging; with drastic cuts in program and personnel budgets, many communicators will be hard-pressed to justify maintaining current programs, let alone introducing any new expenditures.
You know it’s coming. So why not take advantage of these next two weeks to start thinking about your communications strategy and do some preliminary work on your budget projections for the coming year?
My advice: pull out that dusty file with your communications strategy and take a hard, unbiased look at the strategic direction – does it still support the company’s business strategy and goals? Are you reaching all audiences? Are your programs effective?
Don’t forget to review any metrics that you have been collecting over the past year. This is the time to cut programs that don’t bring a solid return on investment (and return on effort!) and re-direct those funds to more effective deliverables.
Next, gather your team for a working lunch. Challenge your team to do some online benchmarking and come prepared with ideas to “steal shamelessly” and implement in your own organization. Tap your team’s creativity and brainstorm ways to improve and expand your current deliverables in the coming year. Discuss no cost/low cost ways to re-energize a tired vehicle, to make programs more cost-effective, to drive participation in events and meetings.
Once you’ve got your updated plan, along with budget projections, print it out and leave it on your boss’s desk when you head out the door on the Friday before Labor Day.
Then go off and enjoy your three-day weekend, secure in the knowledge that you will be well ahead of the curve when you return to the office on Tuesday morning.
Susan C. Rink is principal of Rink Strategic Communications, which helps clients take their employee communications to the next level. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.