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5 things to consider when developing your communications plan.
July 8, 2011 at 7:20 pm #134899
For the last few weeks I have been slowly building a deck on my house. Since I’ve never built a deck before, I did a lot of research, gathered all my materials, looked into regulations, drew up plans and got down to the hard work of getting the deck built.
I’m nearly finished and the process got me thinking about communications (full disclosure, I’m always thinking about how to communicate better!). I think organizations oftentimes approach their communication strategy the way I approached my deck – a vision of what the end product will look like, but not really certain about how to get there.
Here are 5 things to help you develop a communications plan that removes the uncertainty of how you will accomplish your vision:
1) What types of information do your stakeholders want? Brainstorm the types of information you think is most important to people (don’t forget to take what you are hearing from your customer service staff into account). Don’t let your brainstorming be limited to what you already have; allow room for “What if…” questions. You never know, that off-the-wall idea someone had might end up being your most popular item.
2) What’s the best medium for distributing the information? There are two points to this question. 1) What is the best way to get the information out? In some cases it can be done through email or monthly newsletters – in other cases, text messages, RSS feeds, podcasts or social media might be a better way to go. Try to determine what the people in your area will be most comfortable with. 2) How will your staff get information out in an efficient and effective way? You need to find systems that are simple, direct, and fast – with a minimal number of hurdles to overcome. It should also easily integrate with existing systems so you don’t create communication hang up silos. Remember: Simplify, simplify, simplify! The more difficult a system is to use, the greater headache it will cause for the people who have to administer it.
3) How will you inspire and energize staff to take communication to the next level? This is where you can really start to have fun. Encourage staff to create content that is user-friendly, human, and personal. Move internal information, experiences, learning, ideas, direction, and feedback equally well in all directions — up, down, and across the organization. A free flow of information will help everyone problem solve and inspire new, innovative ways of doing things.
4) How will you measure success? This is something that is too often left until after a project is completed. Knowing what outcomes you are looking to achieve from the get-go will help define what results to look for and how you will make improvements to achieve your goals. Are you looking to increase website traffic? Do you want to grow the number of subscribers to your monthly newsletter? Are you interested more in broad coverage so you hit everyone, or depth that provides the people who care with exactly what they are looking for? Do you want to try to capture people’s information so you can connect with them in the future? How will you determine what message delivering mediums are working and what are not? Once you figure out what you want to measure, make sure you are monitoring the metrics that will allow you to know if you are being successful.
5) How will take what you are measuring and adapt in order to get better? You need to have a plan for how you make improvements to what you are doing. If you’ve tested something for 3 months and there has been no improvement, try a different approach. If you don’t adapt, based on what your measurements are showing, you will never get better.
Creating a well developed strategy, before implementing it, can help you realize your communications goals.
What else have I missed. Let me know what other things should be considered when creating a communications plan
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