Every single day you communicate with target groups, donors, policy makers and other relevant stakeholders in order to achieve your goals. This communication helps with building the trust and reputation of the organisation. However, if you don’t have support from the public, it’s very difficult for an organisation or project to thrive. So no matter how big the project is, some form of coordinated communication is always needed. The bigger or more complex the project is – the more attention needs to go into strategy and planning in order to achieve successful outcomes. When communicating, it is important to think about how to communicate efficiently and with most impact.
Types of communication
Communication with different stakeholders in organisations can be divided in several types (adapted from Theaker, 2004):
- Internal communication includes communication with employees, members and volunteers. Focusing on this type of communication helps in cultivating a better atmosphere as well as greater understanding of the mission and vision of the organisation and its core values. In order to create better internal communication, organisations can publish in-house newsletters or arrange informal gatherings.
- Organisational communication is, simply said, communicating on behalf of the whole organisation. This includes communicating its successes and lessons learned, as well as the fulfilment of activities, the mission and the vision. Examples of organisational communication include annual reports, conferences or creating a visual identity and images that the organisation shares and is recognised by..
- Media relations includes communication with different media representatives (journalists and editors) who can help in sharing good stories. This communication is structured towards media outlets at a local, national and international level, as well as expert media. In order to enhance this kind of communication, organisations can send press releases, organise press events or have some informal gatherings to thank journalists for their coverage.
- Public affairs refers to communication with opinion leaders and policy makers. This includes monitoring the political environment as well as organising meetings with government representatives, along with different briefings and speeches, or inviting them to participate at your events. Lobbying and advocating for change is also an important part of communication work.
- Publications management includes overseeing print and media processes, often using new technology. In short, this communication entails crafting appealing messages on leaflets, websites, social media or other outlets and publications.
- Event management means that communicators are organising complex events and exhibitions. This can include organising conferences, round tables, training courses, panel discussions, celebration events or anything else that includes the participation of different target groups and stakeholders.
Quality planning process
Based on all of these types of communication and responsibilities, it is important to plan accordingly and implement a quality planning process.
By planning a long-term strategy, you will be more proactive and strategic and will not react ad-hoc to different issues. A strategic approach also helps in deploying resources more efficiently. (Patterson and Radtke, 2009) The quality planning process will ensure that the organisation communicates its views, mission and vision clearly, and it will help in keeping public attention on the needs of the community. For example, if you communicate clearly about the need to improve the educational system and this is the expressed need of the community you live in, the media and public will follow the story and help you reach your advocacy goals. Therefore, it is important how you shape messages and what tone you use.
A quality planning process and creating a long-term strategy will help every organisation communicate values more easily (which is always a challenge), and it will increase the community base of the organisation (generating support for your causes and attracting volunteers, new members or even donors). (Patterson and Radtke, 2009)
When planning the communications efforts of an organisation, it is always a good idea to create a communication plan that will have several sections: goals and objectives, target groups, messages, channels and evaluation. (Rouse, 2015) It is said that planning and preparation is the biggest component of the work, and this is also true of planning your communication. In order to ensure that your planning and strategising is successful, allow enough time to carry out all the required analysis, research and brainstorming with your team.