Gini Dietrich

The Four-Step Process of Communications Planning

By: Gini Dietrich | November 10, 2014 | 

Communications PlanningBy Gini Dietrich

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Benson Hendrix online.

A communicator, professor, and social media strategist for TEDxABQ, Benson is one of the guys in the industry who does his job without spin and makes everyone else look good.

He has been called everything from a “social media zen warrior” to the “‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper of Public Relations,” and from a “behind the scenes powerbroker,” to “the loudmouth PR love child of Henry Rollins and Anthony Bourdain,” but doesn’t really believe any of it (except maybe the “Rowdy” Roddy Piper part).

This is one of the things I adore about him: He’s humble as all get out. He probably would hate me saying this, but it’s my blog so I’m going to do it anyway!

He’s a giant teddy bear (who wears a cowboy hat). Super smart, very funny, and extremely lovable.

When our mutual friend Ann Marie van den Hurk was in Albuquerque a couple of years ago, she told the story of meeting Benson.

Not only did he meet her at the airport, he showed her around town for the couple of days she was there.

I remember thinking, “Wow. That is super impressive, especially for someone you only know online.”

Well, now you have the opportunity to get to know Benson.

He is hosting our November webinar this Thursday so you get to hang out with him for an hour.

Communications Planning

Strategy 101: Planning for Success is for every communicator who needs to create a plan for next year, but has no idea where to start. It’s for every communicator who jumps straight into tactics and doesn’t do research, planning, or evaluation. It’s for every communicator who wants to show their boss or client how smart they are going into 2015.

Even though it has a “101” in the title, it’s for nearly every communicator who has less than 20 years of experience.

Benson starts out by talking through the four-step process of communications planning and managing by objectives.

He talks about how we tend to want to rush to the tactical side because that’s the most fun, but that you should consider the following first:

  • Questions you should be asking your client or boss before you begin communications planning
  • The four things good PR plans look to achieve
  • What you really should include in a SWOT analysis and how to determine what should be internal vs. external

Then he breaks down each of the four steps.

Here is what you can expect to learn during each section.


  • How to get excited about the research phase of communications planning
  • The questions you want to tackle with your research
  • Answer the question, “Should research be formal or informal?”
  • Things to consider during the research phase
  • How to do a communication audit and what should be included


  • How to do SMART planning (versus being a smart aleck)
  • What each step in SMART means, as it relates to communications planning, not business planning
  • How to manage by objective
  • What the differences are between goals and objectives…and why you need both
  • What good objectives include


  • How to develop your strategy in a non-scary way that makes it easy to understand what that means
  • How to develop your tactics that are driven by the strategy
  • Why it’s important to tweak and improve


  • How to develop your evaluation phase
  • How to use all of these steps to wash, rinse, and repeat for the following year

Webinar Details

The webinar is this Thursday, November 13, at noon ET (that’s 11 a.m. CT, 10 a.m. MT, and 9 a.m. PT, for those of you who can’t do time zones).

It is free and it’s a two-step process.

First, go to Spin Sucks Pro and click the blue “purchase” button at the bottom of the page.

Click “checkout.”

Either create a new account or login to your account.

Click “download purchase” and click the link on the confirmation page (you’ll also receive an email with this information).

Register for the webinar on that page and you’ll be good to go!

Learn and Have Fun

He ends by showing you how to put everything together. He provides great examples and case studies.

He’ll even make you laugh. My favorite quote?

The other business tool I respect and admire…Donald Trump (click to tweet).

Hope to see you on Thursday!

photo credit: Shutterstock

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Looking forward to it; I love SWOT analyses ….

  • I know quite a few pros who need this one … and we can all use more “Donald Trump’s a tool” jokes in our lives.

  • Looks great. You said @BensonHendrix put this together in 3 minutes while tiger taming at the casbah?

  • Will not be able to watch on Thursday as tooling around that day but will catch on replay.

  • Love it–and perfect timing.  I’m a part of a group that will be focusing on this very topic and this guidance will be a great help, I’m sure.  If he can make me laugh while figuring out a strategic plan for myself–BONUS.  Especailly since I would rather just be creative (or have dental work) than sit down and plan for next year.

  • Norma Maxwell Or have dental work. I, literally, laughed out loud at that!

  • Ohhh….I’m so pumped about this one. This is one of those issues you can never learn enough about.

  • biggreenpen Simple While Overly Technical? Some Winter Ointment Treatment? Soiled White Onion Too?

  • Eleanor Pierce  When do we learn the other 8 steps of the 12 step program?

  • annelizhannan Definitely will be a recording for you!

  • Howie Goldfarb Does this mean you got your new computer?

  • Eleanor Pierce There are some very funny jokes in there!

  • biggreenpen Me. Too. I love the planning process. Love.

  • BethMosher

    Looks great and perfect timing. Surely it’s just me, but I can’t register for this to save my life. Again – it’s me, not you, but I’d definitely appreciate some help just the same.

  • BethMosher Paging belllindsay. Paging Lindsay.

  • LauraPetrolino I expect you’ll really enjoy this one!

  • ginidietrich BethMosher Hi Beth, drop me an email at and we’ll try and find out what’s wrong. I’ve had one other person today having issues as well. We’ll get you sorted out! 🙂

  • This is so bloody chock full of goodness and takeaways – be prepared with pen and paper folks!! I can’t wait. Benson is the BOMB!!! 🙂

  • KateNolan

    belllindsay ginidietrich BethMosher I had some trouble too, but then figured out if you login first you can go over to SSP Home page and register for the webinar through the link there. Right now the main link is to create an account which all of us already have cause we’re crazies…

  • desertronin

    helenhmosher Thanks! Looking forward to the discussion! 🙂

  • desertronin

    WReichard Thanks for the share, Will! 🙂 Hope you’ll be able to make it!

  • LauraPetrolino ginidietrich I keep saying the same thing, and people look at me like I’m nuts! Especially over popcorn during movie night at Casa de Hendrix, when we usually have a bunch of family and friends over to watch cheesy horror movies.

  • This looks fantastic. We teach this in our Certificate program and it’s aways good to learn more about the strategic planning process. I’m going to register to get the goodies but not sure I can attend. 🙁

  • ginidietrich Norma Maxwell Wow… strategic planning or dental work… Now are we talking just a regular cleaning, or like a wisdom teeth-root canal combo of doom?

  • EdenSpodek I hope you can make it! And if not, you can always send over an email and I’d be happy to talk more! I can’t stop talk about strategic planning. Just ask my wife… or my friends… or the random people at the bus stop. 😉

  • ginidietrich annelizhannan And I’m happy to answer questions if you have them afterwards. Anytime. Really. Send me a question at midnight and there’s a decent chance you’ll have a response within the hour. Now, since it’s midnight I can’t guarantee the coherence of the response, but darn it it’ll be there! 🙂

  • Howie Goldfarb Eleanor Pierce That’ll be in the advanced class. 😉

  • bensonhendrix Thanks! I’m a regular trying to register but having a glitch. I’ve asked belllindsay for help. 😉 Should be a good session.

  • belllindsay Awwww, thanks Lindsay!

  • Howie Goldfarb Plenty of time, Howie. I even had time at the end to make a nice martini. 😉

  • bensonhendrix LauraPetrolino ginidietrich Popcorn, horror movies, and communications strategies. Quite the trifecta!

  • Sounds really good. Can´t wait to listen to bensonhendrix.

    By the way, is it me or it happens for also: I can´t register for the webinar. Doesn´t matter if I am logged in or not, the same message appears: “Register with Spin Sucks to view this content..”

  • corinamanea I think Lindsay has a cure for that. I’m not sure what it is, so I’ll ask her to stop by to help.

  • corinamanea She says to drop her a line and she’ll help:

  • Thank you so much ginidietrich & belllindsay

  • ginidietrich shhhhhh everyone thinks I am away…locked up in the Gulag.

  • bensonhendrix you do know that ginidietrich loves Appletini’s right?

  • desertronin

    bobledrew Thanks Bob!

  • LauraPetrolino ginidietrich To be fair, there are some comms “strategies” out there that qualify as their own horrors. 😉

  • T60Productions

    RT ginidietrich: The Four-Step Process of Communications Planning via SpinSucks

  • corinamanea

    SpinSucks desertronin Can´t wait. I am ready! 🙂

  • ChristaClips

    SpinSucks desertronin fantastic webinar! Many thanks!

  • desertronin

    ChristaClips SpinSucks thank you so much for your time! 🙂 I hope it helps!

  • Just getting back to thank bensonhendrix for the Planning for Success webinar and belllindsay for hosting in Gini’s absence. It definitely had all the components of a great refresher in strategic communications planning. I just hope the Patriots have a done a good SWOT analysis of the Colts for tonights game 😉

  • annelizhannan It seems as though they did!

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