What do you want to achieve?
It’s important to be clear on your communications objectives before you start any kind of communications campaign. For example, if your objective is to raise awareness, your approach will be very different compared to supporting a major change programme.
Your objectives should be SMART. Details on this model are explained further down this page.
Are you in the early stages of a campaign and you just want people to ‘be aware’ of your project or initiative? Creating awareness will help inform your target audience about your project and what you’re hoping to achieve from it. However, it’s best to have more active comms wherever possible, and it’s usual to include a ‘call to action’ in your communications. Without something more active to engage with, many people will switch off from awareness-raising and see it as something that doesn’t affect them.
Channels you might use: web, email, flyers, posters. Awareness raising communications is more likely to be one-way.
Gaining ownership and commitment
More of your communication effort should focus in this area. If you want people to engage with your project, they need not only to know about it, but to feel a part of it. Undertaking some research with your target audience will help you to understand what they want and what will help them engage. This will help you target your comms in the most appropriate way and to gather support as you go. And even if people complain, it shows they are engaging with you. The next step is to turn it into more active support for your campaign.
Channels you might use: focus groups to gather feedback. Team meetings to ensure everyone is hearing the same message at the same time.
Is your project to support a programme of change within your department? If so, you’ll want your communications to be clear and concise and to utilise face-to-face, two way communications as much as possible. Change can feel daunting and you’ll want to provide people with plenty of opportunity to engage, discuss their concerns and provide their thoughts, feedback and opinions.
Channels you might use: a wide range of channels to ensure everyone feels involved with the process. Web and email can get messages out quickly to people. A print publication will give people information they can take away and process at their leisure. Face-to-face events will give staff the chance to hear from colleagues involved in the change process who can answer their questions and listen to their concerns.
Using SMART objectives will ensure you stay on track with your communications
Specific: the objective is clear about what you are going to do and exactly how you going to do it. Questions to ask include: “What am I going to do? Why is it important? Who is going to do it?”
Measurable: you should be able to measure the objective (Example: % people contacted, number of presentations completed).
Achievable: the objective is achievable given market conditions, time period, resources allocated etc.
Realistic: the objectives can be achieved using the time and the resources available.
Time-bound: the objective is clear about how much time it will take to achieve.
Objectives are written in an active tense and use strong verbs like ‘plan’, ‘write’, ‘conduct’, and ‘produce’, rather than ‘learn’, ‘understand’, and ‘feel’.