8-Step Communication Model

The visual displays a model for carrying out a strategic communications process based on the social marketing approach.

The eight steps are:

  1. Assess Current Situation
    • Acquire a thorough understanding of the problem, the audience and the action you want the audience to take. Assessing the situation reduces the assumptions and lays a solid foundation to continue the process.
  2. Set Communication Goals
    • Answer the question: what do you want to accomplish? Once you set your goals, develop specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (SMART) objectives for implementing those goals.
  3. Identify Intended Audiences
    • Identify the segments of the population you want to target. This will drive the messages, channels and activities you choose for maximum impact.
    • Once you identify your audience, go one step further and analyze the audience. When we segment down to a very specific audience, we learn what makes that particular group tick. And we can use that information to create messages and select channels that will align with the needs, beliefs, values, and priorities of our audiences.
  4. Develop and Pretest Messages
    • Make sure your messages are: easy for your audience to understand; are direct and concise; don’t use jargon; and communicate the benefits to your audience.
  5. Select Channels and Activities
    • Research which communication channels are the most effective to reach your target audience. Remember to engage partners as force multipliers. Partnerships with key stakeholders are valuable elements in your ability to communicate with your audiences.
  6. Develop an Action Plan
    • How will you implement communications strategy? Do you have alternatives (backups) in place to implement all steps of the strategy? Did you identify potential risks and contingency plans?
  7. Develop and Pretest Materials
    • Conduct concept and positioning testing to determine which materials are relevant to the audience; test the materials for memorability, impact, image, persuasiveness and other key attributes; conduct readability testing; consider adding peer or professional review to the materials testing process; conduct test marketing with a small sample of the target audience.
  8. Implement, Evaluate and Modify Plan
    • Review your action plan and modify as needed. Obtain any necessary or required approvals. Implement the approved plan.
1. Assess Current Situation 2. Set Communication Goals 3. Identify Intended Audiences 4. Develop and Pretest Messages 5. Select Channels and Activities 6. Develop an Action Plan 7. Develop and Pretest Materials 8. Implement, Evaluate, and Modify Plan