Our responsibility as leaders includes advocacy for our organizations. To advocate effectively, we need to demonstrate and effectively communicate that a difference has been made that we have closed a learning gap or benefited from an opportunity.
In this assignment, you will be asked to design a plan for communicating positive changes within your organization.
In your design document, answer the following questions:
Who are your stakeholders, and what are their expectations of your organization?
What key messages do you want to communicate?
What objective measures will you collect to demonstrate change, and what tools will you use for collecting this data?
What media, methods, and materials will you use to advocate for your organization?
What is your annual communication timeline?
I think your assignment is a lucky encounter! I have done public relations for higher education and lectured on this very subject, so I hope my advice is useful.
First, when designing a communication plan EVERYTHING should be positive - without being deceptive. I throw in that caveat because in the case of BP, if the only positive thing you have to say is that you made record profits despite your involvement in the worst oil spill in history, don't say it!
Here are the steps I would incorporate into your communication plan and they should encompass all of the questions in your assignment.
1. As the leader of the organization, you need to decide exactly what information you want to convey before you even think about the audience. What has your organization done? How can you prove it? Before moving forward, consider all the possible ways that someone will misinterpret what you see as good. I recently worked on a project in Mexico where we had teenagers working with elementary school children and helping them love books using a number of activities, including drawing pictures of what they had learned. How could that possibly go awry? A reporter asked one of the teenagers why he was encouraging the little kids to use graffiti-style art. Really? First, you pretty much want to smack the reporter. Don't. I've been the reporter, too. The right message here wasn't just that we want kids to love reading. The message was that the all the young people involved were economically disadvantaged, yet they were enthusiastically embracing this opportunity to learn from one another. So when you decide what you want the information you want to convey is, understand that you will need to create narrow messages around your story and that everyone in the organization must understand and be able to deliver those messages consistently. I really hate the term "talking points", but this is why it's necessary to have them.
2. The next step is to decide what your communication objective is. This is incredibly important! What do you want to achieve with your communication campaign? Are your goals short term or long term? I have worked for people who just wanted good PR all of the time without really knowing what could or should be leveraged from all that positive news. Most likely, your objective will fit into one or two of the following categories:
a. Fundraising: Are you telling your story because you need to report progress for an existing grant or are seeking new funding? Are you looking for donors?
b. Friendraising: Are you telling your story because you want to let influential policy makers to support your project? Are you looking for volunteers?
c. Behavior change: ...
This solution describes the steps that should be incorporated into a communication plan on leading an educational organization. Links to additional resources are also included.