How-To: Building a Communication Strategy

Building a Communication Strategy

As the past year has demonstrated, the need for concise and relevant communication is crucial. Due to the pandemic, the move to remote work, and the current state of world affairs, the leadership engagement and the way materials are presented can make or break leadership’s ability to enable buy-in from their workforce. Below, we will address critical steps to ensure your journey is successful in building a communication strategy.

By building a comprehensive communication strategy, you are creating a system whereby employees receive the intended message in multiple formats, at the correct frequency, empowering teams to act or absorb messages as appropriate.

Ad-hoc methods of organizational communication may leave employees feeling frustrated or unheard, therefore warranting the development of a clear and transparent strategy to retain and engage talent. Frustration and the sense that employee concerns are being overlooked or unheard contributes to the larger probability that employees will tune out incoming messages. This can then snowball into an ongoing cycle of employees failing to absorb messages and a lack of action-oriented outcomes. By making sure the tone of your messages, as well as the format, is geared to the situation, you increase the likelihood that the intended action steps and outcomes of your messages are heeded.

Directly informing key members of your audience separate from the more formal rollout can have a trickle-down effect, ensuring the key members are well informed and understand the key information to support the formal rollout with concise, accurate commentary. These key members can then also function as “Change Champions” – maintaining the excitement and alignment of key stakeholders within transformational initiatives.

For the formal rollout, formats can range from out-of-the-box thinking to your standard company channels. We have found success in leveraging a multitude of vehicles for messages. Highly important vehicles include your company newsletter, email blasts, banners on your intranet, kick-off meeting communications, and project milestones. The order of priority depends on the audience and intent of the message.  One of the effective means we have found is through leadership videos communicating the story through genuine anecdotes.

Although a crucial part of ensuring organizational efficiency, communication strategies are often overlooked as the last piece of the puzzle for organizational changes or new technology implementations. This should be prioritized from the start to ensure messages are not missed.

Often clients complain their constituents do not understand the “why” behind the project. If key stakeholders or end-users are unaware of crucial steps they must take once a technology implementation has gone live, then it is likely that the project cannot be deemed a successful implementation. In this sense, communication needs to be at the forefront of leadership’s minds from the get-go to remain as effective and concise as possible.

By understanding the key themes that you are trying to convey, evaluating the methodology that is currently in place for communication, and recognizing any roadblocks or change internally, you are on track towards creating a communication strategy that is effective. Recognizing the drawbacks or inefficiencies of your current communication plan and course-correcting these elements in the improved plan is a critical first step.

Incorporating the appropriate technology and channels of communication to get the correct messages out to help craft an effective strategy is pivotal. This includes establishing an outline of what you believe should be said and breaking down the message into pieces to make sure each thought correlates with actionable steps that can help audiences comprehend what needs to be done on their end.

In essence, your path to a successful communication strategy starts with making sure the appropriate channel is used to communicate with audiences. Then, evaluate messages that gather the most action-oriented outcomes. Remember to keep the audience in mind with word customizations and presentation style.  

Reach out to [email protected] to get in touch with our Strategic Advisory Services team and discuss how to develop your communication plan and leverage premade communication strategies online to guide your brainstorming session. In the meantime, check out our Strategic Advisory Services consulting page here for more information and downloadable one-sheets.