- Understand the context you are operating in and be able to adapt your communications to it.
- Learn how to identify the most important people to engage with; and therefore where to focus your time and resources.
- Be able to record your analysis and your approach to communications in a simple communications strategy.
- Understand what data and information to capture from the beginning of a project, so that you can demonstrate impact (for future funding or spread work) at the end.
There are three parts to this section:
- Build your communications team
- Identify and prioritise your audiences
- Create a simple communications strategy
Good communications involve change, and you will need people to help you plan and deliver that change.
Before you think of the detail of a communications strategy and plan, it is helpful to think about who you will work with on this process.
Previous leaders of health care improvement projects report the importance of bringing people in at the beginning of the process. Therefore, where relevant, co-create the communications strategy and plan. Plan to seek out different views and take them into account at the outset.
The audiences we cover in this section are:
- Colleagues and those who will help shape and deliver the communications.
- Executives and those in positions of power/influence.
- Patients, carers and community organisations.
Download the resources:
- Involving colleagues in your project – a guide
- Winning senior level support – a guide
- Engaging and communicating with patients, carers and the community – a guide
Audience mapping and prioritising is about identifying the people most relevant, willing and able to help you meet your project goals and objectives.
If you understand what your most important audiences are, you can tailor your communications to their specific interests, needs and motivations.
The better you know your audiences, and the more you tailor your communications to them, the more effective your communications will be. This may seem obvious, but it is often overlooked, even by seasoned communicators.
There are two stages to this part of this process:
Good communications need to be organised, developed, and built. The first step in the process is to create a communications strategy.
Don’t let budget or time constraints keep you from setting objectives, identifying your most important audiences or thinking about how to keep these audiences engaged so that you can sustain and spread your work. Neglecting any of these steps could limit your project’s effectiveness.
A strategy focuses on the big picture: the what, why and who you need to focus on in order to deliver the greatest benefit to your project.*
(*A strategy is related to, but different from, your communications plan. A communications plan sets out the actions you will take as a result of your strategy: the how and when of communicating to your audiences.)
Work through the following tools, preferably in the order set out below, to complete your communications strategy.