Your company just spent time and resources crafting an engaging roadmap, strategic plan, or other important product. How do you make sure it has an impact, and doesn’t just sit on a shelf? Developing and implementing a communications plan helps to ensure the information you’ve worked so hard to capture reaches your target audiences and drives them to act.
A client recently asked us to help them to develop a communications plan that would encourage hundreds of employees and their supervisors to take new training courses, and make interested parties in the general public aware of these materials. While working with the client, I first made sure they had concrete answers to three important questions everyone should ask when crafting an effective communications plan:
- Who is your audience? It is important to first and foremost think about each stakeholder group you are trying to reach with your communications campaign. Why would they care about this new resource? How do they like to receive information? What motivates them to act? For example, our client knew that their employee audience would respond best if they understood how the training resources would make their lives easier. We incorporated this messaging into the plan to increase the likelihood employees would engage with the courses.
- What do you want your audience to do? The client knew they generally wanted to raise awareness for the new training material, but needed to further define exactly what actions they wanted their audiences to take. In this case, they wanted supervisors to pass along the resources to employees who should be using it. Clearly expressing what you want your audience to do once they read your material will give focus to the messages and products you develop as part of your plan.
- Which communications methods are available? While the client knew the basic methods available to them to reach their audiences, such as company email and intranet, they had not explored other ways they could notify stakeholders about the materials. After some brainstorming, the client realized supervisors could easily add a slide alerting employees about the courses to PowerPoint decks. This would allow them to discuss the training materials at meetings their staff was already using to get important updates. Think creatively about how your target audiences are receiving information on a regular basis, and look to expand the opportunities they have to interact with your communications materials.
While these three questions sound simple at first, having clear answers for each of them is key to drafting a communications plan. Clarifying your message, thoroughly analyzing how your audience receives information, and outlining comprehensive ways to reach stakeholders will ensure your products have lasting influence.