By Cindy Nguyen

A critical part of developing and implementing a communications strategy is selecting the channels and vehicles you will use to carry your message. Beyond print media, radio, TV, outdoor, mobile, and social media all offer different ways to reach your audience. To properly leverage each one — or to decide which to employ — you need to understand the strengths of each.

Effective television and radio ads typically have a clear call to action and are repeated on the same channel to compel the audience to action. Television reaches a large audience, but at a high price in production, time, and cost. Radio offers lower cost and shorter time from concept to air while reaching smaller (but perhaps more targeted) audiences, making it a good platform for event promotion.

Illustration of people talkingOutdoor media is rapidly expanding to new concepts like video display vehicles, smaller mobile platforms like Segways and scooters, and projection media. These new concepts can leverage campaign components already developed and deliver them in new, exciting ways. For example, repeat your television ad on a video display vehicle, or wrap an ad on a Segway and attach a tablet for users to sign up for a local event. Consider taking your message to the night sky with projection media, reaching your audience via digital outdoor displays.

The mobile handheld computer has very rapidly taken over our lives, but it is essential to understand that mobile use varies through the day. According to comScore’s research, desktop technology use peaks during typical business hours, while mobile reigns in the morning and evening. Looking more deeply into information like this can help determine whether or not to distribute campaigns via mobile handheld devices. An important caveat to mobile campaigns is that the vast majority of a user’s mobile time is spent in messaging, social, entertainment, or gaming apps. Yahoo’s Flurry analytics shows that only 10 percent of consumers’ time is spent using a browser, so simply optimizing your campaign for mobile ads or websites may not reach as many users as you’d like.

Social media is massive, and its reach is ever evolving. While most organizations take advantage of standard text and photo posts, a budding feature of many social platforms is live video content. Platforms such as Periscope, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter give organizations an outlet to provide live content and engage with users in real-time.

Identifying the best ways to share information hinges on the ability to establish the true objectives of your marketing and communication strategy — who are the messages intended to reach, what do you want them to do when they receive the messages, and what resources are available to you. Many times these factors will determine the type of content needed, which, in turn, will help shape the selection of distribution channels.