When organizations aim to deliver effective communications, there are many factors to consider. But what are the essential aspects that cannot be compromised? Based on my experience as a communications professional in the international development sector, organizations aiming for effective communications must address two essential and interlinked aspects:
It all starts with a communications strategy that sets out your organization’s communications mission and vision, which must be in line with your organization’s overall mission and vision. Your communications strategy does not only address your objectives – it also clarifies your audiences and niche, your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, the resources you generally need, governance mechanisms, the communications channels you will use, and other important aspects. The development of your overall communications strategy should also inform the development of associated strategies, such as your press, social media and content strategies. But don’t confuse strategies with plans – they are different (but interlinked) animals. Non-profits: Click here for an excellent resource for developing a communications strategy and workplan.
You can’t deliver your strategy without the right people, tools and budget. Your current human/financial/technical resource situation will inform the development of your communications strategy. In addition, your communications strategy development process will help you determine whether you can/should be more ambitious resource-wise, or stick to what you have. In fact your communications strategy is an essential resource in itself. Besides your strategy, key communications resources include:
- Human resources: For effective communications, you need effective people. The number and skills of your people will depend on your ambitions (strategy) and budget. Content strategists: check out these useful tips on building a content team.
- Financial resources: Your budget must be linked to your strategy, as well as organizational realities/allocations.
- Platforms and channels: In this day and age, an engaging website and social media presence is a must. Moreover, effective communications cannot be achieved in isolation. Harnessing partner platforms and channels is a no-brainer.
- Policies and guidelines: How will your communications support transparency and accountability towards your stakeholders? Who is responsible for what? How will you ensure your brand and content is consistent across all channels and stakeholder groups? How will you ensure ethical image use? These questions should be clearly addressed in your communications policies and guidelines.