Australian Government,  Blog post,  Communication Strategy,  Communications professional

Taking clients with you on your comms journey

Ever wondered why people don’t really care about your communication strategy? You spend weeks perfecting it. Getting just the right tone, great messaging, creating detailed environmental scan. You send it off to the business area or client and…silence. No one engages in it. 

As communications professionals, we often spruik the concept of taking stakeholders “on the journey”. Engaging with them throughout the process or project to ensure they feel like they are part of the outcome. But how often do you do that when developing a communications plan?

I had this realisation a few months ago when I ran a communications planning workshop for a client. The workshop aimed to educate a group from within the business about what communications was and how we developed a communications plan.

Over a few hours, we co-designed the objectives, audiences, messages and channels for the next twelve months. We didn’t aim to get the language right. We didn’t agree on every word, but we got consensus on where we were headed and what we wanted to achieve.  

Running a workshop with your clients helps them to understand how you think as a communications professional.

These were not communications professionals, so I needed to build a basic understanding of the communications concepts we were covering. Understanding how to identify your audiences or determine your objectives is not obvious to everyone. I did this by presenting the concepts it in a way they would understand and used examples from other industries they would be familiar with.

This part of the workshop was key to building trust in my ability as a communicator, and in our profession. We don’t regularly explain how we do what we do. We don’t just make this stuff up people – it’s based on theory, models, well-tested processes and formulas!

I loved running this workshop. Not only was it fun, but it was an eye-opening experience for me. Why haven’t I been doing this for years!?! I am used to gathering information and then sitting down and bashing out a communications plan. Sending it to the business area for approval (often getting limited changes or never getting formal sign off), and then no one would follow it. It was so frustrating. This was what I had been missing. I needed to show people how I thought as a comms person not just develop a plan they didn’t really understand.

I think my highlight was at the end of this workshop was when one of the participants said “that was not a waste of my time” – compliment!

Here is my lesson for all of you. If you want buy-in to your communications strategy, if you want people to understand how you think and why you do what you do, engage them in the process. It is invaluable.

Having an external facilitator can help drive great outcomes from a workshop. You get to be part of the conversation, not lead the discussion. Why not give me a call? With decades of experience in government and a career communications professional, I am the ideal person to run your next communications planning workshop.

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