Academic journal article The Public Manager

Marketing Communications: A Vital Element of Achieving Change. (Mini-Forum: Human Resources Management)

Academic journal article The Public Manager

Marketing Communications: A Vital Element of Achieving Change. (Mini-Forum: Human Resources Management)

Article excerpt

Two case illustrations that provide a roadmap for effective planning and implementation of communications campaigns to advance human resources objectives.

Both public and private sector organizations must support change initiatives and other mission challenges with effective internal and external communications programs. A well-developed and executed plan will help communicate your message, define specific communications objectives, set strategies and benchmarks, and define messages. Such a plan rapidly creates a cost-effective communications program that addresses all the constituencies you must reach to mobilize support, build acceptance, and remove uncertainty.

It is critical that organizations directly reach and impact all of their constituents to generate mission results; it is no longer enough to simply broadcast a message and wait for some type of response or action. A plan will help ensure that communications reach the intended audiences and that the audiences notice and act upon the messages they receive. This article provides an overview of marketing communications planning for public organizations. It is meant to help you understand how you might harness the power of an effective communications plan to advance your own organizational objectives.

What Is a Marketing Communications Plan?

A marketing communications plan is a document that details:

* The organization's communications objectives.

* The organization's communications audiences.

* The tactics (methods) that will be employed to reach each objective.

* The timing and sequencing of each tactic in the plan (an integrated communications schedule).

* Measurement and review criteria (objectives must be measurable, quantifiable, and determined in advance).

For a government organization, a marketing communications plan must typically address the following organizational responsibilities:

1. Provide external constituencies with timely, accurate, and complete information about the organization's policies, programs, and services.

2. Provide internal constituencies with a consistent vision of the organization and its objectives, the implications of internal and external changes, and guidance in achieving mission results.

3. Ensure that the organization is visible, accessible, and accountable to the public it serves.

4. Employ a variety of ways and means to communicate, and convey information in multiple formats to accommodate diverse needs.

5. Routinely identify and address communications needs in the development, implementation, and evaluation of policies, programs, and services.

6. Help the organization work collaboratively with other government organizations to achieve coherent and effective communications with the public.

Why Create a Communications Plan?

You must create a communications plan because you cannot afford not to. Most of the time, communications are required to mobilize support, build acceptance, remove uncertainty, and reduce risk. Often, the potential investment in a program, new product, or new initiative is too great and both financial and staff resources cannot be wasted. If communications are not implemented as part of an overall plan, you risk:

* Lost productivity: economic loss, loss of staff (existing staff and new staff)--it is important to keep constituents focused, energized, and productive.

* False starts: accomplishing a mission objective is a race against time and planning is important.

* Personal loss: stakeholders become disappointed and frustrated and work against the overall mission.

How to Develop an Effective Communications Plan

Many organizations develop plans as an afterthought. They develop the communications plan after they begin marketing, greatly increasing the danger that communications activities will not hit the right audiences; activities will not include relevant content; the communications budget will not be effectively utilized; and communications will be confused and inefficient. …

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