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Designing a communication strategy: key points for a Change / Communication Manager to consider

In the world of change management and project management, communication strategy is an integral artefact. If designed properly, it makes a huge contribution to project success.

While there is no one size fits all communication strategy for all scenarios, considering some key points always makes the planning easier.


Alignment with program / project timeline

That is arguably the most important part of the communication strategy. Communication always has to be relevant and current. If you are too late in sending the communication, it runs the risk of causing panic and confusion. Eventually, you might have to spend a lot of time in damage control. If it is too early, the target audience might forget the key message.

Target audience

To maximise the outcome, you should always consider your target audience. Are they C suite executives? Are they mid level managers? Are they frontline managers? Are they frontline employees?

It is ideal not to use the same communication piece to all types of audience.

The channel to use

Different organisations use different channels to send communications. It can be regular monthly bulletin or a weekly message from a C suite executive. Depending on the purpose and the target audience, select the appropriate channel.

Issuer of the message

Is the Program / Project / Change Manager always the best person to send the communication? Not necessarily. It depends on the purpose and the audience. Surveys show employees usually respect their people leaders. In a busy environment, it is more likely that they will look into a communication from their people leader rather than some little know Program / Project / Change Manager.

Content / what is in it for me (WIIFM)

There is a reason a program / project is organising a communication: you want certain actions out of your audience. Explain it to them in plain language explain the background, i.e. why they have received the message, what is the expectation of them, where they can seek clarifications and support from. In simple words, consider WIIFM.

Reinforcing the message

To maximise the outcome, it is a good idea to encourage people leaders to use the communication in their day to day coaching activities, or in other interactions with their direct reports. Sometimes, when a communication is issued from a very senior level leadership in an organisation, it is a good idea to get people leaders re forward the communication with a few words of their own as explanatory notes. That reinforces the message.

Administrative activities

To create a communication, the Change / Communication Manager is required to do research. That could include reading artefacts, asking questions to other subject matter experts on the program, e.g., the Business Analyst or the Architect or any other relevant SME. They should note any such dependencies and know who their relevant SMEs are.

The Change / Communication Manager should also be proactive in organising the sign off from the relevant senior leader(s) who would sign off the communication and is likely to be the sender. Depending on their level of seniority, it is a good idea to approach them by their Executive Assistant.

Structure the above in a plan

Record the above activities in a document (possibly an Excel spreadsheet) and assign a status to each activity, e.g. Not Started, In Progress, Sent for Sign Off, Sign Off obtained, Communication Sent, etc.


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