How to Develop
a Communications Plan


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How to Develop
a Communications Plan

Sample Plan 1
from PRSA

Sample Plan 2
from ARA

Sample Plan 3
from King County Library System

New: Sample Plan 4
from "Any County" School System

Crisis Communication Quick Reference



Sample Plan 2:
Automotive Recyclers Association
Communications Plan 1999 - 2002


Click here to download this document in Winword format.

Note: This is a first draft of a work in progress.

INTRODUCTION

ARA has developed a strong base on which to serve the Industry and continue to grow beyond the end of the decade. These plans will continue to require sorting through many complicated issues. This includes the environment in which ARA operates, as well as within ARA itself.

During 1998, ARA was significantly strengthened in the key areas of marketing, customer service and Internet Services. Currently, ARA is diligently working on strengthening computer systems as well as review the ARA product line to keep up with the rapid changes in technology and in the Industry. The 1999 philosophy is to focus on properly servicing our members while securing our position as leaders of the industry.

The environment in which ARA operates is changing at an increasingly rapid rate. Therefore, ARA must remain flexible and responsive in order to respond in an effective manner.

GOALS AND INITIATIVES

Marketing Goals:
ARA has four main goals. They are to:

  1. Increase the awareness of ARA and our mission in the Automotive Recycling, Collision Repair and related industries.
  2. Continue to improve the image of ARA and help improve the image of the Automotive Recycling Industry.
  3. Increase consumer awareness of CAR certification, and the Gold Seal Program, whereby consumers request parts from automotive recyclers by Gold Seal members.
  4. Collect, provided and maintain ARA membership services and benefits for automotive recyclers that meet or exceed the needs of the Inter-industry as the leading provider of educational materials, products and knowledge to the Industry.

Goals will be accomplished and activities organized by focusing on specific ARA initiative areas. Within each particular initiative area there would also be specific goals.

Marketing Focus:
The focus for is plan will be on these key areas:
  • Gold Seal Program: Continued emphasis on Gold Seal membership, both within the Industry, related trade industries and with consumers.
  • Existing Products and Services: Continued marketing of all our products, programs and services through all Marketing and Field Operations channels.
  • Field: Increased support for Affiliate Chapters, State chairs and Regional Directors.
  • Increased market penetration into existing markets.
  • Market Research: Market research into industry statistics, program and service histories, etc.

Main Initiatives:
The concept of "Main Initiatives" is used to identify areas that need specific action and attention. It brings focus to those things that significantly affect ARA. Although their priority may change and some will be added or deleted, they will remain important throughout the plan period. For 1999 they are:
  • Building stronger Inter-Industry relationships
  • Improving training, systems and communications delivery methods
  • Developing additional products, benefits and services for members and the industry
  • Improving service performance at all levels of the organization
  • Increased market penetration with a stronger Volunteer base

OVERVIEW OF THE 1999 PLAN

1999 is devoted to:
  • Successfully introducing the ARA International Database
  • Successfully installing new computer systems for every Checkmate user for the International Database
  • Introduction and expansion of the customer base for the ARA International Database.
  • Expanding membership of the Gold Seal Certified Automotive Recyclers Program.
  • Achieving greater market penetration for Gold Seal auto recyclers.
  • Improving service performance to our members.
  • Expanding the use and familiarity with electronic technology among all ARA members.
  • Introduction and acceptance of the directSALVAGE program.
  • Emphasizing international component of Association in all relevant activities.

Marketing and Public Relations efforts will be focused on the following key areas:
  • ARA International Database
  • CAR Certification
  • Gold Seal Program
  • Existing Products
  • Field

CRITICAL ISSUES

PR Communications Plan:
Complete the comprehensive 3-Year Public Relations Communications Plan with agreed-upon initiative areas and goals.
  • Develop plans with primary and secondary messages and vehicles and techniques for each initiative area
  • Develop a "Mission Statement" that reflects ARA's current focus review existing communications materials for initiative areas
  • Development of a "Vision Statement" that describes all of ARA. It will include ARA, ARA Education Foundation and the ARA Scholarship Foundation. It will in included on all ARA general promotional materials (i.e. General Information Kit, New Membership Kit, Press Information Kit, etc.)

Improved Database Systems:
ARA needs to "flood" the market with information regarding the benefits and services available while maintaining information and services to the members and/or contributors to assist them in:
  • Understanding the market value of their parts inventory data
  • Seamlessly transferring information
  • Providing technical support

This main initiatives/strategies for this project are:
  1. Successfully install new computer systems for current inventory data users (i.e. Checkmate, etc.) for the International Database by July 1, 1999.
  2. Introduce and expand the existing customer base for the ARA International Database by competing directly with existing and potential for-profit data inventory management firms. Encourage membership in ARA for those contributors not already belonging to the Association.
  3. Maintain free, open and consistent communication to all industry segments while recognizing that different segments may require different delivery systems and distribution channels. Automotive recycling standards, electronic systems and improved database management systems are tools which should be used to assure this is accomplished.
  4. Expand the use and familiarity with electronic technology among all ARA members.
  5. Undertake further international expansion, on an opportunistic rather than aggressive basis, while assuring that existing operations are not compromised.
  6. Develop additional products and services for the industry through the new computer systems beginning with the directSALVAGE program.

Improved Salvage Acquisition:
ARA has developed a major improvement in the salvage acquisition process with the development of directSALVAGE, an electronic means of finding salvage over the Internet.

ARA needs to "flood" the market with information regarding the benefits and services available to members who participate in this program.

This project maybe addressed by the following actions:
  • DIRECT MAIL - to the industry and related industries such as product marketing mailers, press releases, news letters, etc., in order to maintain the most up-to-date information on this new service.
  • INTERNET - to promote the benefits of the directSALVAGE program on including the sign up form and all updates and background information/FAQs.
  • FAX BROADCASTING - ARA will promote the benefits of the ARA directSALVAGE program through our fax-on-demand service and the Fax Update publication.
  • FIELD - ARA will promote the benefits of the ARA International Database at Locator on Location, the ARA Annual Convention and Exposition and other industry trade events to be identified. We will also maintain our presence at Chapter association trade events.
  • INDUSTRY PUBLICATIONS - The plan will be to continue our exposure to the industry through aggressive submission of editorials and articles to industry publications. In addition, the advertising strategy will be to feature the benefits of utilizing the ARA International Database and emphasize the value of the Database.
  • PRINT ADVERTISEMENTS - Developed for all key initiative areas and determine appropriate schedule for usage.
  • PITCH STORIES to related industry media on major initiative area.

Gold Seal Certified Automotive Recyclers:
CAR certified or working to earn certification will be a minimum requirement of membership by 2002. At least one member has reported that CAR/Gold Seal participation helped achieve environmental compliance/preemptive avoidance of problems

This issue is being addressed by the following actions: TBD

Improving Communications:
This issue is being addressed by the following actions:
  • Completion of the distribution of computers for the International Database. This will open up new and exciting areas for future projects and more efficient modes of communications.
  • Expansion of information on World Wide Web site for ARA and ARA programs will be a priority action item.
  • A formalized reporting system will be created which will catalogue all specifics regarding information to be disseminated.
  • The educational seminars and speakers for the 1999 convention will focus on technology (i.e. e-commerce, International Database, etc.)

Field:
Due to better position and having a more visible booth, ARA will again throughout 1999 experience additional traffic during trade events including Collision One to One, Locator or Location, NACE and other trade events. We will continue to tote the benefits of contacting Gold Seal certified auto recyclers. We will also maintain our presence at Chapter association trade events.

Throughout 1999, we will distribute Affiliate Chapter, State Chair and Regional Director leadership assistance packages which are designed to provide leaders a tool to better plan, promote and administer ARA programs and activities.

Volunteers:
Committee Volunteers will continue to receive recognition during 1999. An increased number of public relations articles will be written and placed with booth trade and consumer publications.

Trade Magazine Advertising/Editorial:
The plan will be to continue our exposure beyond just the automotive recycling specific publications to include more collision repair, insurer and auto dealer publications. In addition, the advertising strategy will be to feature the benefits of CAR certification, and emphasizing the value of Gold Seal are all included in the new ad campaign

This issue is being addressed by the following actions:
  • Developed print advertisements for all key initiative areas and determined appropriate schedule for usage (Serendipity Communications).
  • Pitch story(ies) to related industry media on major initiative area (i.e. insurance trade press may be interested in story on how directSALVAGE is working)

International:
This issue is being addressed by the following actions: TBD

Market Research:
To continue to use the findings of the major market research projects which were conducted in 1998 to evaluate market perception and acceptance of our current offerings and delivery methods and to generate new product and method ideas.

Inter-Industry Relationships
Continue active participation in Inter-industry organizations such as URG and other organizations involved with our industry.
  • Identify and pursue more URG/ARA joint projects.
  • Attend other industry association and organization meetings to demonstrate a spirit of cooperation and willingness to participate in projects and activities where joint efforts world be beneficial to the industry.

Marketing and Public Relations Products:
This issue is being addressed by the following actions:
  • Re-write and/or edit ARA speech to account for major initiative areas as much as practical (i.e. average listener isn't going to be overly concerned with anything but the most basic explanation of these initiatives)
  • Identify core messages/talking points for each initiative area
  • Provide various alternatives to distribute products to appropriate ARA officers/personnel

Telemarketing:
follow up with direct mail or phone calls (to members and to other industry representatives) based on leads or contacts made for initiative areas at ARA convention

America Recycles Day:

Year In Review:
do new millennium/new auto recycling industry mini-campaign. . .end of year item in magazine, op-eds or guest columns, ARA speaks in other pubs.

Product Enhancements/Updates:
Automotive Recycling: A Success Story brochure
Beginning in July 1999 the Automotive Recycling: A Success Story brochure is scheduled for updating with completion planned for November 1999. It will require significant work including rewriting, updated photographs, and more current statistical information. The marketing strategy will be centered around ARA magazine advertising, direct mail, Internet advertising to industry, inter-industry and consumer markets.

Recyclers Manual
Currently the Recyclers Manual is in production with a completion date for October 1999.


2000-2002 LONG TERM PLAN

Long Term Possibilities
A list of possible outcomes that must be examined against Mission and long range objectives, then incorporated into the Plan as appropriate:
  • Fully automated, electronic, paperless interconnected administration in the Association.
  • Significant alteration in how ARA reach our markets
  • Significantly increased International activity.
  • CAR and/or Gold Seal standardization will be recognized by individual consumers.

MAJOR TRENDS/STRATEGIES

Industry Trends
A detailed analysis of automotive recycling industry revealed the following trends:
  • The need for industry standards are gaining momentum
  • Industry expectations of ARA are growing, requiring ARA to broaden the scope of its mission.
  • The use of a computerized inventory system among automotive recyclers is growing. (Note: 50% of auto recyclers in the U.S. use a computerized inventory system. Among the leading vendors of these systems in the U.S. are ADP, 60% of the market, AutoInfo, 20% of the market and the new Pinnacle/U.R.G., 1% of market share.)
  • There are growing challenges facing the industry concerning environmental regulations.
  • There are growing concerns about costs, and competition in the industry (i.e. Aftermarket.
  • There is considerable debate on the effects of recycled OEM air bags as a viable and safe alternative to new replacement air bag modules.
  • There is a growing concern of salvage acquisition.
  • Increasing demand to find qualified employees.
  • Increasing demand to keep up with technology.
  • The disparity between elite ARA members and those who make up the less-informed, will continue to expand.

International Industry Trends
  • Increased use of computerized inventory system. Rarely use North American inventory systems.
  • Increased importing and exporting of parts.
  • Increase e-commerce with International markets for various ARA products and services.

Strategies
  • Increase the penetration of the Inventory Systems Market to ___% of the Total
  • Maintain free, open and consistent communication to all Industry segments while recognizing that different segments may require different delivery systems and distribution channels. Automotive recycling standards, electronic systems and improved database management systems are tools which should be used to assure this is accomplished.
  • Develop a larger pool of certified professional automotive recyclers by providing materials, research and related services, and assisting in recruiting quality students by raising the Industry image.
  • Raise the perceived and actual value and benefits of ARA membership through improved member awareness, increased benefits and continued focus on environmental services.
  • Undertake further international expansion, on an opportunistic rather than aggressive basis, while assuring that existing operations are not compromised.

LONG TEM PLAN OF ACTION

ARA International Database
Continue to "flood" the market with information regarding the benefits and services available to consumers while maintaining information and services to the members and/or participants

Salvage Acquisition
Continue to "flood" the market with information regarding the benefits and services available to members who participate in this program.

Gold Seal Certified Automotive Recyclers
Emphasis the urgency to begin the CAR certification process to ensure continued membership in the year 2002.

Inter-Industry Relationships
Continue active participation in Inter-industry organizations such as URG and other organizations involved with our industry.
  • Identify and pursue more URG/ARA joint projects.
  • Attend other industry association and organization meetings to demonstrate a spirit of cooperation and willingness to participate in projects and activities where joint efforts world be beneficial to the industry.

Field
Due to review other industry trade events for ARA to participate to better positioned and have a more visible booth while continuing to tote the benefits of contacting Gold Seal certified auto recyclers. We will also maintain our presence at Chapter association trade events.

We will continue to distribute Affiliate Chapter, State Chair and Regional Director leadership assistance packages which are designed to provide leaders a tool to better plan, promote and administer ARA programs and activities.

ARA Magazine Advertising/Editorial:
(See Gail)

International:
This issue is being addressed by the following actions:
TBD

Volunteers:

Earth Day:

America Recycles Day:

Product Enhancements/Updates:
A New Life Video
The "A New Life" is currently being updated with a completion planned for Late 1999/Early. Distribution and marketing is scheduled to begin January 2000. The target market for this video will be to educational facilities, speaking engagements andČ╔.. The marketing strategy will be centered around product ads, etc.

PR Video News Release
Beginning in Early 2000 the PR Video News Release is scheduled for update with completion planned for early spring. It will require taking excerpts from A New Life video (following its completion) as well as creating a full length video that can be sent electronically and over the Internet. The target market will be to media outlets especially for cable and public television.

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Questions or comments? Email Robin Mayhall