How to approach your communications plan
Before you put your communication together or request for your message to be sent via the Internal Communications team, it is firstly useful to think of the five Ws:
Who, What, Why, Where, When...
Who needs to know? A message is far more effective if it is targeted to a direct audience rather than a blanket communication to all staff. We have over 12,000 members of staff doing a range of jobs so it’s worth spending time before you start thinking carefully about what kind of colleagues you want to reach.
What information needs to be communicated? Keep this as simple as possible – ideally no more than three key messages.
What is the purpose of you communicating this? What do you ultimately want to achieve? Is there a clear call to action?
Does your message apply to certain Directorates/Faculties only? Where are these staff based – on or off campus?
When does your message need to go out? What project timeframes need to be considered? And have you considered a follow up communication?
Putting your plan together
As a result of following through the communications planning process above you are now ready to create a plan. Here is what it should cover:
What do we want staff to feel/think? Having mapped out the key messages this should help you to determine what the aims are. There only needs to be two or three aims and should be short and in plain English.
This is simply the audiences that will need to be communicated with to varying degrees and at differing times.
By following the communications planning process you should have already mapped these out. Remember to explain ‘what it means to me’ and what you want me to do as a result of this communication.
This section is important as the message needs to be relevant to the audience otherwise what is the point in communicating the message? Most of us receive many messages and you need to ensure that staff read and understand it.
This is where you need to map out exactly what your message is to whom, when and how. You need to capture:
- Date – when do you want communication to take place?
- Action - what is the action and what is the key message you need to get across?
- Audience – as you will have already mapped out your target audience during the planning stages you should be able to identify exactly who the action/message is for. By identifying the exact target audience this enables you to ensure the message means something to those on the receiving end. In other words ‘what it means to me’.
- Channel – at this point you need to refer to the communications matrix that explains the channels that are available across the University.
- Responsibility – while the Internal Communications team is responsible for the broadcast channels such as StaffNet news, communication activity can be owned by anyone. For example, it may be most appropriate for a staff member within a project team to present to a Senior Leadership Team. The Internal Communications team can advise you if required.
- Evaluation –how do you know if your communication has been a success.
This framework can be used by anyone - internal communicators planning their own projects, or others across the University who ought to answer these questions before discussing their communications project with a member of the Internal Communications Team.