Employee Comms

How to create a successful communication plan


 — March 17th, 2017

How to create a successful communication plan

How to create a successful communication plan? Engage stakeholders and plan it carefully.

Benjamin Franklin might never have been President of the United States but he is remembered for words as wise as any uttered by the many famous Presidents remembered for theirs.

The ultimate guide to internal communications strategy

His quote that nothing can be said to be certain in this world except death and taxes may have had an earlier run-out from someone else, but another saying applicable to this day in everything from sport to business is linked squarely to him: by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.

It’s as true in 2017 as it was in the 1700s and it applies as much to preparing a communication plan as it does to achieving anything else in life. Any comms plan is only going to be as good as the work you put into preparing it.

Because measurement of internal communications is so critical to proving the effectiveness and value of IC, we decided to commission one of the world’s leading experts in this area, Angela Sinickas, to create for us The Ultimate Guide to Measuring Internal Communications.

The reason we did so is that in our 2016 Global Survey of over 700 IC professionals, in excess of 95% said they considered measurement of their communications “extremely important”, yet over 50% admitted it was the activity they spent least time on each week”. Perhaps because an alarming two out of three said they found communications “difficult to measure”.

So we commissioned the ultimate, simple-to-understand and practical guide to measurement so internal communicators could be more effective and prove value.

But of course the outcomes of any measurement are determined by the quality of the communication plan in the first instance, and in Part 2 of the guide Angela concentrates on the essential steps to prepare for and create a robust plan that has every opportunity to be successful.

One of those critical steps is to make sure you have the input of stakeholders before developing a plan in the first place. Try doing it without stakeholder engagement and you can look forward to having a communications disaster on your hands. Quite simply, it’s doomed to fail.

But of course it needn’t be like that, and with proper, careful, and informed planning, involving people from across the organization, you are setting a very solid foundation for a successful plan.

Part 2 takes readers through the key measures to ensure effective stakeholder engagement, including pre-planning research and pre-testing of potential communications.
Some of the key takeaways:

  • Pre-planning research: What and how should we communicate?
  • Before developing a comms plan, identify what employees already know about the topic and their preferred ways of learning about it. This guide tells you how.
  • Pre-testing: Will the communication work as intended? Find out classic examples of comms that went badly wrong for simple reasons.
  • Gap analysis: How closely do expectations match reality? If you’re planning to conduct an employee survey find out how to get invaluable input into finalizing the questions to be asked.
  • Deeper Insights: Why do employees see things the way they do? Sometimes this can be anything but obvious, but there are ways of getting better insight.

The guide also includes invaluable advice on how to conduct employee focus groups. As we all know, focus groups can play a really important role in internal communications, helping to gain valuable insights into employee sentiment, among other things.

That’s if they are conducted correctly. Done badly, they have the potential to do more harm than good, so it’s essential to get it right. From her vast reservoir of experience, Angela has created these Top Tips & Traps, brilliant advice on what you should and should not do, and how to handle tricky situations in focus groups. Find out more here.

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