Brad Schenck is one of HardPin's earliest collaborators. A friend of the HardPin family, Brad has been working diligently on a novel titled The Digital Plan: A Practical Guide to Creating a Strategic Digital Plan. He is interested in the big questions that frame goals and plans so they can be accomplished in real time. As a fellow writer, I feel his pain; a project of this magnitude takes time and care, not to mention diligent, never ceasing editing. It's difficult to see an end to the work put in when the end goal often feels eons away. I was able to ask Brad a few questions about the importance of his work and why his new book is so important to other artists and their collaborators.
CC: What is the Digital Plan?
BS: "The Digital Plan" is a guidebook to create a good digital strategy or plan. It isn't designed to be a one size fits all template because I don't think that exists. The books goal is to help guide people through the right questions to create a digital plan that meets their project or campaign's goals. You could almost think of it as the questions a consultant would ask you and guide you with to create the right plan.
CC: How did the idea come to mind and what were some of the motivations behind it?
BS: There were several motivations for this book. Much of it being people over the years asking me for a digital strategy template. Sadly my answer is always there isn't one because each project's goals and resources are so different. A good digital strategy should think about goals and link together everything from digital ecosystem to meet those goals. I wanted to create a book like this to be able to point people to. I see such a consistent need from people and management levels needing to better grasp what questions to ask, those just getting started with projects, or for folks who've worked in one realm of digital but not the others. Another major motivation is over the years I've seen more than a few consultants overcharge and under deliver for campaigns and organizations. What I believe is at the core of this is knowledge about the digital ecosystem. I know that in reality many organizations operate on a limited budget and I want them to be able to ask the right questions so they are getting the right support to meet their goals.
CC: Now that you see the end of this project that you've spent so long putting together, do you feel satisfied with the results?
BS: I am actually feeling great about it. We plan to get an an initial edition out in September so electoral and issue campaigns can use for their final push plans. The plan is to take some feedback from that and publish a second edition in the months following election day. I'll know this project is finished when I feel that it gives concise, positive guidance to a wide range of people, helping them achieve their goals and plans. We are really close to that.
CC: How do you expect readers to react to this book and what is the dynamic you are trying to reach?
BS: I think the reactions will be pretty wide. For some it will just be that sense of clarity confirming the questions they were thinking of were on the right track. For others it will be some serious aha and light-bulb moments. I really think the audience that will benefit will be anyone working on issues or campaigns. Whether you are entry level or executive director it will shed some real light on what should and could be in a digital plan. I do think it will also make the lives of digital folks better when non-digital staff read it. Because they will all be able to be on more level communications field around what should inform the plan.
CC: You say "What people need, is the knowledge of which questions to ask to frame goals and plans." What are some of those questions?
BS: It is a pretty wide range of questions but things like:
What is the impact we want from this email?
How do we build a system that thinks about the right ask, to the right audience, at the right time?
How do we determine the right ask?
This book isn't about how to follow the latest trend or how to hack some platform. At it's core it's about creating a plan that focuses on goals and impacts. Regardless of platforms this book will help individuals create plans that are strategic, and while things seem to be in constant flux, good planning and learning to ask the right questions to leverage platforms, content, and audiences will hold true even as nuances of platforms change.
Brad's book is set to release in September with a revamp after the Nov. 8th election expected in time for 2017. You can donate to the project by clicking on the link below.