Building a successful communication plan takes time, brainpower, and effort. And ultimately, it boils down to five key questions:
- What are your goals?
- Who (and where) is your audience?
- What tactics will you use?
- What are your cadence and budget?
- How will you measure results?
What are your goals?
You need to set short-term and long-term goals to write a good communication plan. This will set the direction of your communication strategy and help you outline your objectives and key messages to reach your communication goals.
Your objectives can either be output-based or outcome-based. For example, getting X number of unique visitors to your internal company website is an output-based objective. But changing the perception of a policy or program among X% of your employees is an outcome-based objective. It’s a good idea to have a mix of both outputs- and outcome-based objectives in your communication strategy.
Who (and where) is your audience?
As an internal communicator, you probably have several different groups to communicate with. For example, your employees—frontline, managers, and top executives—are your internal audiences. But if you also want to communicate with the families of your employees, you have an external audience. In the world of benefits communication, this is often the case.
Another thing to think about is target audiences. Does their location matter? Do they work from home or in a traditional office setting? Or are they on the go? Where your audience is matters because it will influence the communication methods you use.
What types of communication will you use?
Your goals, objectives, and audience characteristics will help you decide the communication channels to use. For example, if your goal is to encourage employees to choose a more cost-effective medical plan, you might consider targeted mailers to employees in plans that cost more. If your employees are on their feet all day, moving around and not sitting at a computer, perhaps a podcast is a good medium of communication.
There are lots of different tactics you can use, from print media like postcards and flyers to digital media like videos and websites.
What’s your cadence and budget?
Communication should be relevant and timely. And your budget will dictate how often (and to what degree) you can implement your communication strategy. Having a consistent cadence of communication is key to keeping your messages top of mind with your audiences.
It may be worthwhile to invest in a larger project, such as an internal benefits website, that can last a long time and be a good source of information. You may also want to consider supplementing that with smaller, more frequent tactics, such as bi-weekly emails or monthly postcards.
How will you measure results?
This is the secret sauce to your entire project communication plan. If you can’t measure the results of your communication, you won’t learn much or be able to enhance your strategy over time to be a more effective communicator.
From the get-go, identify areas of opportunity where you can capture metrics. For example, with websites, you can capture analytics such as the number of visitors, top searches, page views, and more. Or you could develop a survey and send it out to your audiences to gain valuable insights. Keep in mind that how you measure results needs to tie back to your objectives.