14 Ways To ‘Grade’ Your Communications Plan Before It Launches

Delivering major news in any organization can be a complicated process. Whether it’s internally or to the public, you want to communicate the information as clearly and responsibly as possible, leaving no room for misinterpretation or confusion.

To accomplish this, a detailed plan that outlines every point you’d like to make and addresses any possible miscommunications should be at the top of your to-do list. Before you roll out the plan, however, it’s important to review it to ensure it will be well-received.

We asked a panel of Forbes Communications Council members for their best strategies for “grading” a communications plan before its official launch. Their best answers are below.

Forbes Communications Council experts share their best strategies for reviewing your messages before they launch.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Ask Someone Outside The Company

To ensure your communications are being clearly conveyed, it’s always a good idea to ask a trusted, outside source to review it. If someone with little context who is outside of your organization can interpret what you are trying to say, then it is likely that your actual target audience will understand. – Antoine Bonicalzi, Cyberimpact

2. Make Sure It Suits The Audience

Company news prepared for press or the public has different requirements than news being announced within your company. I always like to draft multiple communications—one that suits the needs of the press and one that speaks to the organization. You don’t want your company reading a press release any more than you want the press to receive a more informal document designed for the organization. – Ashley Murphy, Stribling & Associates

3. Consider The Outsider, Insider And Detective Perspectives

Consider the outsider, the insider, and the detective: Would a non-industry reader be able to clearly understand your news? Are you sharing the important details that an industry insider would need? If someone fact checked your announcement, is everything that’s verifiable correct? Answer these questions, then run the announcement by someone in a different team for a fresh perspective. – Karla Larraga, Champions School of Real Estate

4. Give It To The Editing And Content Teams

Both private and public companies should strive for transparency in their communications with the public. Be diligent and specific about the communication process. Ensure that multiple sets of eyes read it and that the message is on point with the company’s goals. Two teams should read news: an editing team and a content team. It’s so important to ensure clarity. – Ira Gostin, Gostin Strategic Consulting LLC

5. Check The Channels You’re Sharing It On

For internal communications, a critical part of planning is knowing who needs the news first. Ensure you are reaching those people on a channel that they use most—be it mobile, email or intranet. Second, consider whether another version of the news needs to go to the rest of the company. According to our data, personalizing internal communications is a key way to get attention and drive action. – Alison Murdock, socialchorus.com

6. Look At It Through A Competitor’s Eyes

When releasing news, there are three key points: The news should be real and new, the executives have to know all the details inside and out and they need to have a bulletproof Q&A with answers to all anticipated sensitive questions—a sort of a crisis communications plan. Pretend you are in the shoes of your competitor and ask the questions a competitor would ask. Make sure your answers are perfect. – Svetlana Stavreva, IBM

7. Practice Your Message With An Audience

Practice with a trusted associate or two and ask for honest feedback. It’s so easy for a message to be misinterpreted, so I have a dry run with colleagues, incorporate their feedback and practice again before delivering a message. This initial run-through allows me to massage the message or fill holes that others might see. Time is money, and practice is time well-spent. – Marija Zivanovic-Smith, NCR Corporation

8. Run It By Other Departments

When you spend so much time crafting a message, it can be difficult to divorce yourself from it. As part of a marketing team, you run the risk of falling prey to using “marketing speak.” An easy checkpoint is to follow up after the announcement with a colleague in a separate department to see their impression of the announcement. Think of it as a new addition to your water cooler conversation. – Patrick Ward, High Speed Experts

9. Hire A Professional Editor

Contracting or hiring an editor can provide an additional filter to a communications plan. A well-trained editor doubles as a sensitivity reader and fact checker who can prevent your greatest PR mistakes and ensure you are providing enough information for your audience. You may have good writers on your team, but tapping into insight from a good reader will elevate the effectiveness of your plan. – Jeff Grover, Best Company

10. Think About Your End Goal

Answer the question: What is the end goal? If you can clearly articulate what you want to achieve after your communication has been delivered, then you can work back from there. There may be one hundred different ways to develop a communications plan, but only one end goal. Name it, define it, then measure how you’ll achieve it. – Amber Mullaney, QSR Automations Inc

11. Build A Matrix

I recommend building a matrix that helps you quickly consider who the stakeholders are with a role in your announcement, what timing and approval they need to provide and the sensitivity involved in the announcement. If I know that a customer is going to need to approve a quote that will likely need to pass through the legal department, it helps a lot to know in advance and anticipate timing. – Robyn Hannah, Dynamic Signal

12. Listen For Silence

A communications plan is typically measured by how well the target audiences embrace and take intended action on messaging. The focus is on addressing and minimizing any criticism. However, it’s also important to determine where there may be pockets of silence. A lack of feedback or questions is bad. It often indicates that people don’t understand the messaging or that it doesn’t resonate. – Nysha King, MRINetwork

13. Run Through The Five W’s

For any communications approach, the fact is if you’re not examining the who, what, when, where and, most importantly, the why of the whole story or the news, it’s probably not news. This classic paradigm will help you think through audiences, how the messages may or may not resonate with those audiences and most importantly it has to answer the most important question of all why anyone should care. – Eric Jones, WP Engine

14. Check The Quality Of Sourced Data

Ensuring quality control of any data and research stats shared is critical. Oftentimes teams pull “relevant” data from an article to prove a point without double checking original sources, competitive conflict, age of data, etc. Even the most salient point in support of your business won’t land if data is old or from a competitor’s report. It just dilutes the overall impact of your message. – Andrew Caravella, Sprout Social

Click to go to the full article:


Viewing 1 post (of 1 total)
Viewing 1 post (of 1 total)
Reply To: 14 Ways To ‘Grade’ Your Communications Plan Before It Launches
Your information:

Please Login
Username can not be left blank.
Please enter valid data.
Password can not be left blank.
Please enter valid data.
Please enter at least 1 characters.
Powered by ARMember