May 25, 2012
Businesses come across difficult scenarios which require careful external and internal communications. Depending on the severity of the situation, communication strategies, plans, policies and procedures need to be developed for staff and leaders to respond appropriately.
Communication Strategies Plan
Like business and marketing planning, you need to develop a communications plan. Ensure you have a communication strategies plan which may include:
- Communication policies
- Education and development opportunities in communications
- Process for gathering information from area experts
- Procedures for approved external communication lines
- Designation of approved spokespersons within your organization
- Development of action plans following communications
Communication policies in your organization will set the rules and help staff get organized around communications needed internally and externally. These guidelines and rules will illustrate how staff should discuss issues and who can handle communications in the organization. It will help organize staff in the event that a serious situation arises that requires carefully controlled communications.
If your organization is large enough, your may have policy specialists who may undertake a formal policy development process. Drafting clear and concise policies will assist in establishing solid guidance and help with a thorough understanding of company policies.
It would be advantageous for you as the leader in your organization or your designated communications lead to hold sessions for your staff. Staff need to be aware of the policies and procedures around communications to ensure situations are handled appropriately. Learning sessions will keep everyone informed on the proper protocol for communications and staff will be well informed on the “what ifs” that pop up from time to time.
Internal capacity building should include opportunities for staff to build skills in communications, whether those skills are centered on oral or written communications. Building individual capacities will build organizational capacities – worthy investments.
Gathering Information for your Communication Strategies
As a leader, you should have procedures to delegate some of the responsibility around information gathering to area leads, area experts. As an executive you may not be the professional at all operational levels… that’s why you hire area experts to inform your decisions. Have a procedure for circulation of communications to area experts to fill in the appropriate level of detail. Following through the track of approvers, you and your communication specialists will craft the communications for the audience.
Approved Communication Lines
As part of the policies and procedures, you communications person along with management will approve of the appropriate communication lines that either a spokesperson or communications lead will use.
Appropriate communications is an art and a professional career. The organization should have procedures around who in the organization should be talking to the public, external parties or the press. A dedicated, trained spokesperson would be approved by the organization and would know the appropriate tactics to use to adequately handle the situation with press, ensuring the organization does not get into hot water. They would be able to temper the press or stakeholders appropriately, taking an inflamed scenario and turning it into a positive one.
Internally your team should be developing an action plan following the release of information. Depending on what type of message it is and how severe, you can gear up your team to be pro-active. This preparedness will lessen the blow externally or internally.
An organization has been rumored to lay off several hundred people at one location which would have severe economic impacts for a small town. This information may have been stretched and fabricated. The press has been notified and is looking interview the company for more information for their news story. This could gain the wrong attention for the national corporation and could have a wide-reaching negative impact for the public company.
Communication unit and all management would develop a communications plan around this scenario and ensure that approved communications lines have the corrected information in it. The organization would then move forward with having the approved communication person who has been trained to handle external pressures, be interviewed by the press and provide the correct information about correct job training programs in place, with no negative employment effects.
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© 2012 Strategy Plan One