Developing a Communication Strategy By Faith Nguthi (PhD) ISAAA AFRICENTER 3rd -4th July 2012, Kigali Rwanda,
What is a communication strategy A communication strategy outlines a process of communicating and sharing information to target audiences and stakeholders Why? What? Who? When? Where? How?of relaying information
It provides….. a structure for identifying events (e.g., issues, problems, and actions) that require outreach; considers potential messages and audiences; Develops vehicles to deliver information.
Effective communication Must reflect a two-way dialogue, Listen (what does our audience want?), Design and deliver audience-informed strategies, Feedback to assess impact.
When to use….. When events or issues are complex or potentially sensitive, Helps you to organize information and identify the concerns that may arise from such issues. Avoid potential misunderstandings about difficult issues. When time is of the essence. Ensures rapid information exchange during emergencies. Early analysis of participants and their roles so that expectations and communication needs can be identified and fulfilled throughout an event or project.
But………. While the private sector invests trillions of dollars every year on communication The public and non-profit sectors perceive it as an optional or fringe activity, and certainly not central to the work (e.g. the research) itself. Communications are typically out-sourced or developed by junior personnel Little idea of the organization’s objectives. Minimum budgets
Why? Ask yourself: What is the issue to which my project is responding? or What is the action that my project is taking that warrants development of a strategy? What is your communication goal? providing information, increasing awareness, encouraging action, building consensus, changing behavior, promoting community participation, resolving conflict, asking for a response, or something else?
What Identify and define all messages. Might involve a brainstorming session where all possible message ideas are listed. Rank message priority. Focus on two to three key messages and rank them by importance, timeliness, or other factors
What?Message: What is our message? Do we have one message for multiple audiences or Multiple messages for multiple audiences?
Who? Audience Who is our audience? How do they perceive the innovation/technology? What questions do they have about the innovation/technology? Know what your audience care about - what they want to know, not what they need to know! By answering the potential audience questions, you will improve the effectiveness of the message and increase the efficiency of the delivery mechanism to be developed.
When & whereChannels: What channels will we use to disseminate our message? Special events Community interviews Community visits Focus groups Media, news releases, press conferences Public meetings Public or private schools Workshops
How?Essential Elements Basket of tools: What kinds of communications “products” best capture and deliver our messages? Resources: What kind of budget do we have for this? What communications skills and hardware do we have?
Tools &vehiclesWhat kinds of communications “products” best capture and deliver our messages? Brochures Exhibits Internet Mailing information Presentations Public notices Telephone Translations of documents into second languages Newsprint, radio, videos Social media
Feedback Successful? What will have changed? Did we use the right tools? Was the budget enough? Were we on time? Did we have any influence?
Feedback Creating an Impact Log. This is qualitative and non-systematic informal record compiled in-house stakeholder feedback (e.g. an email extolling the virtues of our policy brief); a list of media references indicating the reach of our communications products (e.g. direct reference or citation in newspaper articles, Internet, TV); speeches citing our work,
Feedback contd. Formal Survey - with a purposefully selected sample of people Will provide information to help improve our communications strategy. Key-Informant Interviews to gather more in- depth information from stakeholders with insight into our communications. Focus group discussions
Mobilizing Resources for theCommunication Strategy Communication is often an expensive venture. With increased competition for scarce grant resources, think of new, diverse, and multiple funding streams Multiple sources of funding increase your independence and flexibility to implement programs
TipsA communication strategy should…. Thorough, but not too elaborate. Not replace process of actually communicating with clients. Flexible enough to allow for changing messages. Consulted often to remind of goals, messages, and audiences. Define most important ideas to communicate. Document successes and shortcomings for improvement. Work with press particularly at milestone events Revised if it is not producing results
5 communication failures that killoperational successMixed messages from multiple expertsInformation released lateNot countering rumors and myths in real-timePublic power struggles and confusion
Seven “attitudinal sins”1. Wait-and-see attitude.2. Belittling attitude3. “Everything under control” attitude4. “We know best” attitude5. “You have to believe me”6. “Freedom works best,”7. “Discredit the critics”. Walter von Wartburg http://web.aces.uiuc.edu/ agcomdb/archive/2000/2000_6.html#seven
Remember….Communications is a two-way process The better we listen to our audience, the better we will be able to answer their needs and the more our messages will be believed, liked, and ultimately acted upon.