Marketing & Communications Centre > Marketing Essentials > Help Sheets > Splitting your Communications Across Different Outlets

Splitting your Communications Across Different Outlets

The number of communications outlets ready, (hopefully) willing and able to carry your group or organisation's message to the community, the state or even the world, has probably never been larger.

The advent and growth of the Internet and Pay-TV – as well as the continued strength of commercial and community television and radio, and the many and varied print media outlets and growth in niche publications – means there are more ways than ever of using the media to spread your messages.
Add to that those ever-present "non-media" communication methods like flyers, brochures, newsletters and posters, and your choice of communication medium expands further.

This sort of choice can be a boon, but it can also be a headache if your group hasn't thought about which communications methods it wants to use.

One option that can not only be cost-effective, but which makes the most of the choice in communications, is to consider a "split" or "multi-channel" communications strategy.

What is a Split Communications Strategy?

A split communications strategy is a way your community group can be smarter in how it gets its message across – and how it can spend any marketing budget it has wisely.

This sort of strategy means your group splits its marketing budget across a number of different media and/or marketing outlets.

This not only has the benefit of increasing the chances your group's messages are heard, but can also see your marketing become more effective because it is spread widely.

An example of this sort of strategy could see your community group:
  • Organise for your event to be publicised in the community notices or what's on section of your local or metropolitan newspaper;
  • Approach your media contacts for a story in the general news section of the newspaper, or in a radio or television news bulletin;
  • Promote the event on your group's website or in the email signatures of its members,
  • Provide and email message and encourage your own members and supporters to pass onto their friends or people they think would be interested;
  • Conduct a direct mail-out of information on the event to those on your database, and;
  • Print up some flyers or posters and strategically place them to promote the event.
As this example shows, an approach like this can cover a wide range of media outlets (newspaper, radio, television, on-line/Internet), as well as non-media based communication methods (flyers, posters, direct mail).

This way your group is not putting all its eggs in one basket; instead it is planning well and stretching its marketing budget to cover as many bases as possible. This helps your group get its message out to the widest possible audience while not spending too much to do so.

Studies have shown that split-media campaigns can be quite successful. A 2001 study by international consultants McKinsey and Company reported that those who had taken up a multi-channel approach had enjoyed noticeably increased sales, while reducing their cost-per-revenue ratio.

But making the most of a split-media campaign means the many strands of your communications strategy need to work in harmony with each other. That's where integrating your campaign comes into play.

Integrating your Communications Strategy

Integrating your communications strategy can take on a number of forms. Two of the more common campaign styles are a matching campaign and a joined-up approach.

A matching campaign is where your community group's communications, no matter what medium they are featured in, look similar and carry similar messages.

For example, if your group is staging a major appeal, your newspaper, radio, direct mail, Internet, brochure and television coverage could include the same core information (contact details, reasons behind the appeal, call for support, etc).

Each would then have subtle differences depending on the medium carrying the message – compelling pictures or visuals for television and printed coverage, personalised messages in direct mail, sound effects/voice-overs in radio.

This type of campaign is related to the concept of branding – where your group or organisation defines and promotes an identity through consistency in appearance, message and themes. Of course it then has to back up this stated identity with its actions.

For more information on branding, refer to the help sheets Branding and Your Community Group, Part 1 and Part 2, at the Media & Marketing Centre.

A joined-up approach is where different media or communications mediums perform different functions at different times within a wider communications campaign.

Using the major appeal example above, a joined-up approach could see you:
  • Firstly direct mail to those on your contact list or database to get them interested, before.
  • Varied media coverage through a story or two on the news and then.
  • Community service announcements or free community calendar ads to build interest among the rest of the public.
The overall strategy is meant to flow seamlessly through each of its different parts.

Parts of the strategy would also refer interested people to other communications points for more information – a common example of this is to have a television or radio advertisement referring to your group's Internet site for more information.

Again, branding can (and should) play a role in this type of strategy. Throughout the varied communications streams, a "common thread" – be it a logo, slogan or theme – can be used. This "thread" can also increase recognition of your group.

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