Communications is integral to each prong in Partner Build Grow and crucial to advancing both your overarching and short-term goals. Who you communicate with, how you communicate, what you communicate, and why you are communicating should be strategic and linked to your course of action for sustaining the initiative. This applies whether the task is approaching individual policymakers to ask for their support or igniting the community to voice their approval.
One of the earliest steps your team takes should be making sure that all members have a common understanding of the concepts and terminology you will use and a broad-based, unified vision/mission that each team member and organization agrees reflects the goals of the initiative and can be supported by their individual organizations.
This vision/mission will be the basis for core messages that will be adapted to communicate with each discrete audience you decide to target. Such internal communications decisions will be the foundation for your communications plans and will make your coalition more effective in conveying the value of your initiative.
Planning and implementing effective communications starts with reviewing how you plan to meet your goals and making strategic decisions on who you need to reach to most effectively influence your desired outcome(s). A communications plan consists of who you want to reach (your target audience), how you plan to communication with them, and what you want them to do (your ask). Getting the right message to the right people by identifying key audiences and then developing strategic statements tailor-made for them is essential.
Begin by learning about your selected audiences: what are their priorities and how do they get their information. Decide how to tailor your core message, what you are asking, and how you will reach each audience, making sure these decisions reflect what you learned is important to them. Look at your connections and partners, your knowledge of the policy environment, your mapped assets, and the successes of programs in your community and others to inform your plans. This information will also be used as evidence to support your message.
Most important, your message should be strengths-based, focusing on the benefits the initiative has brought to date and its potential.
Continuously assess your efforts and adjust your targeted messages and strategies as the political environment changes, your visibility increases, and the overall effort proceeds.
Updated March 2018
“I don’t think that five years ago school climate was being discussed. Now as we’ve refined it and talk about…