Updated: Oct 16, 2020
How well is your team or organization doing with communicating change? For most, communications is an afterthought, but how a change is communicated can make or break its success. As facilitators, it's our job to hold the space for those in the room and those who are not. You don't have to be an expert in communications planning to remind your groups to take this key step in informing all who are impacted by the change.
QUICK TIP: At the end of every strategic planning session, make it a habit to ask these questions... What needs to be communicated? To whom? By when?
Think of change like a rollercoaster. Based on the "Change Adoption Curve," this graphic shows how people process change. Some jump on board. Others resist or deny the change. Then there's a group in the middle that doesn't care either way. Each of these is an audience that needs to hear the message of change in a unique way.
Best practices in marketing tell us that we don't take action or absorb information until we have seen it seven times. That means that communications doesn't just happen once. It happens continuously and through multiple channels.
The Kotter change model may be used as a blueprint for considering what messaging may need to go out at different parts of the journey.
For example, early on, it's more about communicating the vision. As the change advances, we create opportunities for people to get involved (calls to action) plus grab any chance we have to highlight wins.
BONUS VIDEO ON BUILDING A MURAL BOARD:
Here is a walk through of how to create a branded Mural board with visual templates and breakout groups. This Mural board was designed for use in a 50 person Mid-Atlantic Facilitators Network (MAFN) workshop on strategic communications planning.
If you like this video, join one of our free Friday Coffee Chats for more pro-tips and peer-networking conversation that will help you gain confidence facilitating virtually. Coffee Chats are every Friday at 8 AM Eastern US.
Visual Template for Strategic Communications Planning
Use this template to guide groups through strategic communications planning. You can do this in person by creating hand-drawn templates or remotely using a program such as Mural, an online whiteboarding tool that replaces flipcharts, if we were in person.
Download a blank template to add to your Mural board.
This template assumes that the group already knows the change that needs to be communicated and the audiences who need to hear about the change. If the group you are facilitating does not know who it is messaging to, a stakeholder mapping or other empathy-building activity first.
I like the Stakeholder Mapping activity from the LUMA Institute. Grab this and more design thinking processes in their Innovating for People Handbook.
Try This: Strategic Communications Planning Process
Duration: 60-90 minutes
Audiences: On a blank flipchart or canvas, brainstorm who the key audiences are. Be as specific as possible. The group may want to list audiences as their roles and perhaps even experiences and tenure in the organization. For example: Senior leaders who are not sold on the change New employees who need help navigating the organization Down scope this list to three key audiences that the group thinks need to be reached the most. Add the audiences to the left side of the template.
Needs: For each audience, consider their needs. Invite the group to put themselves in the shoes of this audience. Consider an empathy-building activity, such as the Value Proposition Canvas from Design a Better Business.
For example: Needs to feel like their voice is heard Needs free time to reflect on the impact to their job
Messaging: Knowing what each group needs to hear, design the message for each audience. If they heard ______, this person or group would be on board and engaged. What's in it for them? This becomes draft text for creating emails and talking points. For example: There is no threat to your position. You have time to consider each option.
Channel(s): What person, vehicle, forum, or mode of communication does each audience respond best to? Email may not work for everyone. Some groups want to hear the leadership speak in a townhall. Others need to hear it from their manager. Other groups need quick soundbites via corporate newsletters. For example: Employee townhall. Team meeting (provide talking points to managers)
Call to Action: Most importantly, design a call to action. This can be similar across audiences. Having a clear way for the audience to get involved helps assess whether or not the message has reached them. For example: RSVP to the townhall event Send your questions to email@example.com
Follow-up: Graphic Game Plan
This template gets you part of the way towards a communication strategy. The next step is designing an action plan. Our favorite tool for action planning is the "Graphic Game Plan" template from the Grove Consultants International. You can purchase image files of the entire Grove Strategic Visioning toolkit online, for use in PowerPoint decks, Mural boards, etc.
Here is an example of what your Graphic Game Plan might look like.
To use this for communications planning.
(1) Start with the goal.
(2) What resources are needed?
(3) Phase 1
Collect stories and data
Build webpages and wikis
Plan and schedule events with save the dates
Draft targeted launch plan with key dates
Gather audience feedback
Highlight success stories
Plan for phase 3
TIP: I like to facilitate only the first 1-2 phases of any project, so that you can use the space further out to make any changes to the plan, based on lessons learned.
(4) Note any known challenges or obstacles to overcome along the bottom.
(5) Take note of desired milestones, signs of success or quick wins below the arrow.
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Join us for the second MAFN workshop on "Strategic Communications (Powered by Mural)" on November 6, 2020, 12-1:30 PM ET US.
Attend our upcoming "Build Your Brand Book" workshop (October 27&29, 2020, 1-5 PM ET), designed to help facilitators who have taken a hit during COVID-19 to rebrand and reach their audiences online. All participants will receive a complimentary coaching session on their branding. Learn more.
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You might also like:
Design a Better Business by Patrick Van Der Pijl, Justin Lokitz, and Lisa Kay Solomon
Innovation for People Handbook from the LUMA Institute
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