With the traditional Q4 planning and budgeting period approaching rapidly, it’s time to start thinking about your approach to the process for 2024. Baseball Hall of Famer and master of malapropisms Yogi Berra famously said “It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future,” but it’s not hard to see that the coming year will feature economic, political and societal volatility that will challenge business and brand leaders and communicators alike.
Based on recent client conversations and years of experience, here are five thought-starters to help you develop your communications strategy and resource plan for 2024.
- Understand the business dynamics. Demonstrate to the C-suite that you are in touch with business performance, forecasts and the forces that will impact your company in the coming year.
- Start with a healthy opening budget bid. Whether you think you’ll be asked to make cuts or not, start the process with an optimal budget that provides all the resources you need to be effective – and that gives you plenty of room to cut back if necessary.
- Prioritize ruthlessly. Understand and highlight in your plan the most essential communications activities and resources, those with the most direct connection to business performance. Be prepared to set aside worthwhile but non-essential programs if required.
- Build flexibility into your plan. Consider developing a tiered plan with different assumed resource levels to make clear what your team can and can’t do, based on where the budget ends up. Build flexible resources into your plan, like PR firms, contractors or freelancers who can ramp up to support you or dial back, as needed.
- Be prepared to say no. You can’t and shouldn’t deliver the same service levels and programs with a modest budget compared to a robust budget. If you’re asked to economize, be clear and specific about tasks and activities that are out of scope based on your resources.
Getting ahead of the budgeting process by having a framework in mind, and being prepared for the inevitable give and take, will serve you, your team and your company well as planning season gets underway.