We are often asked to run workshops to help organisations develop their communications plan for a project or for a whole year.
Whether you already have some planning in place or not, we start by asking:
• what do you want the communication plan to achieve,
• who are your audiences or stakeholders and
• what are their communications needs and preferences?
A communications plan sets out what you will do to help achieve your communication objectives or goals.
If the objective is to inform your stakeholders (including staff), what you share and how you share it will be different than if you want to influence behaviour change.
Likewise, who your stakeholders are, and their preferences, will shape your plan.
If you are making assumptions that a particular audience group likes long written pieces, for example, when in fact they may prefer short videos, your efforts may miss the mark, not engage them and waste your resources.
When one of our clients doesn’t know what their stakeholder groups are interested in or how they prefer to receive information, then we recommend consulting them. Ask and they will tell you.
Suitable tools and their roles
Armed with this information we can then proceed to choosing the right mix of communication tools. This might be as contemporary as developing an app or as traditional as sending written material in the post.
The roles of each tool also need to be considered and defined as they can overlap. Is the staff newsletter’s role to send organisational messages from the managers or to provide staff with opportunities to tell their stories? Or both? Is a story you use in your internal communication something that can also be shared on your website?
A communications plan also establishes timing for each of the activities. How frequently will you post on social media and how often will include staff stories in your internal newsletter?
Setting targets and evaluation
To demonstrate the value of the communications activities, we must understand what the important measures of success are for your organisation. We will then work with you to set targets. Monitoring these creates a feedback loop, enabling adjustments to be made to the plan as needed.
Targets can measure outcomes, such as the amount of engagement you had for social media posts and should also measure impacts. An example might be that the objective of the communication activities was to change Occupational Health and Safety behaviour so that more staff reported near-miss incidents. You may measure the percentage increase in near-miss reports or the reduction in accidents to show how the communications contributed to the overall impact. If there was a reduction in accidents there would also be a cost savings from this work because of fewer injuries. These are measures most organisations are interested in.
There is a lot to consider in your communications planning. We’re here to help.