Friday, April 01, 2016 | By: Amanda Barnes
The not-for-profit movement needs to be more accountable if it is going to continue enjoying the income that results from the support of the public, governments, and other partners. This means that just having a communication strategy isn’t enough. The quality of organisational communications has never been more important, so it’s vital to have a strategy that’s designed to meet the specific needs of your organisation and a workable plan for putting it into action.
Most organisations undertake to communicate what they do to the outside world. But often this amounts to little more than maintaining a website, publishing an annual report and circulating a newsletter.
More often, organisations have invested in developing a communication strategy but have paid little attention or no attention to actually implementing, monitoring and reviewing their strategy. Sometimes the organisation’s leadership isn’t even aware that a communication strategy exists, never mind what it commits the organisation to do and what resources it requires. I’ve seen some ultra-ambitious communications strategies that simply aren’t being implemented. The top ten reasons for this are:
- commissioning someone who does not understand the sector to develop a strategy that is not realistic for the available resources
- lack of meaningful commitment from the organisation’s leadership without an understanding of the skills and resources needed to sustain an on-going communication strategy,
- insufficient investment of resources for implementation
- failure to assign responsibility for overseeing implementation to someone with sufficient authority and seniority to make things happen
- not making the person responsible for implementing the strategy accountable to the organisation’s leadership
- expecting people who don’t have the right skills and experience to take responsibility for implementation
- expecting people who are already overstretched to take responsibility for implementation
- not setting an implementation schedule stipulating deadlines for getting things done
- failing to put in place a process for regularly monitoring and reviewing the strategy
- assuming that all communication specialists are multi-skilled: just because someone knows how to post content onto a website, it doesn’t mean they necessarily know how to write a good feature story or how to pitch a news story to a journalist.
A good communication strategy should always include an implementation plan, which spells out:
- what resources need to be put in place – including what skills are needed, how much labour each activity will require, what infrastructure is needed and how much it will all cost
- who will be accountable for making sure it all happens
- when things will happen – including a realistic timeline for getting things done
- how it will be monitored, reviewed and evaluated.