How to Pivot Your Communications Plan

Road sign warning of upcoming right curve

You know what they say about the best-laid plans. We always hope for the best—that our plans go exactly the way we want them to—but things change. When changes affect your communications strategies, it may be time to pivot your communications plan.

In this post, we’ll talk about when pivoting your communications plan may be called for and how you can pivot effectively.

Why would we need to pivot our communications plan?

Here are a few reasons why organizations may need to pivot their communications plans:

  • Shifting priorities: Maybe market conditions changed, or the organization updated its goals or its values. Existing strategies get outdated—so updates are needed.
  • Adapting to audience needs: Sometimes, audiences respond to a different strategy than expected, or their concerns shift. If you’re not meeting their needs, it’s important to pivot your strategy.
  • Changes to industry or environment: If new regulations are introduced, for instance, you may need to change your messaging to reflect these changes.
  • A crisis: Here’s the big one that keeps folks up at night. Crises and other rapid changes can require communicators to quickly respond. But it’s important to be responsive, rather than reactive. Don’t rush your pivot just to have something. Work quickly and strategically.

When these things happen, we need to adapt so that we can continue to communicate and market effectively.

So, what happens next?

No matter the reason we need to pivot, it’s important to be strategic, deliberate, and future-oriented. Here’s how to do that.

1. Assess the situation

The first step—we need to figure out what’s going on. Who’s involved, what the effects are, what the future might hold, and what information is critical to get out there now.

We also need to look at our ongoing or upcoming communications strategies. Identify what needs to be put on hold or changed.

2. Revisit goals

Next, we revisit our goals. Get them fresh in our minds. Remind ourselves what our goals are for our communications as well as what are the organization’s overall goals.

This goes for long- and short-term goals. How’re they affected by the changed circumstances? Do they need to be changed? Or can an updated strategy support the goals while meeting the changing needs?

And here’s what’s key to remember: pivoting your communications plan doesn’t mean abandoning your goals entirely. Rather, it’s about reassessing and adjusting to achieve them in a way that’s right for the changed circumstances.

3. Reevaluate the audience

As always, we keep our audience in mind. Depending on what changed, our audience’s needs may have changed… Or we may even need to connect with a new audience.

How have our audience’s needs, concerns, and expectations been affected? If we’re changing our strategy due to audience preferences, we think about why the new strategy works better and what the audience expects from it.

Plus, we need to keep key stakeholders and internal teams informed. In a crisis situation, for example, organizations need to preserve trust and credibility not just externally but internally too. And anyone speaking on behalf of the organization will need updated talking points, messaging, etc.

4. Develop new strategies

Now that we’ve considered all these factors, it’s time to come up with our updated strategies. New messaging, getting in different outlets, targeting new audiences, changing formats… All of these things are possible changes to consider.

Once we’ve got our plan to pivot, we need to make sure that everyone involved is on board. As we said, it’s essential to keep internal teams and key stakeholders up-to-date too—to make sure that what goes out there is clear, consistent, and credible.

Use These Steps to Guide Your Pivot

Pivoting your communications plan can be a daunting prospect, but it’s a necessary one when unexpected changes crop up. By assessing the situation, revisiting our goals, reevaluating our audience, and developing new strategies, we can adapt to new circumstances and continue to communicate and market effectively.

Remember, the best-laid plans may not always work out—but with a little flexibility and a commitment to pivoting strategically, we can still succeed in our communications efforts and achieve our goals.


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