Communication Methodology

The Communication Methodology is used to research, create, and execute a communication plan for a project/effort that targets key audience groups. These audiences can include executive groups, faculty, staff, students, and more.

The Communication Methodology is:

  • Scalable: The methods and templates apply to communication efforts big and small, internal and external.
  • Widespread: Nearly every communication effort includes these components.
  • Iterative: Communication planning is an iterative process. Completion of components is not always sequential.

Phases of Communications Planning and Delivery

Click any phase or step for further details and links to resources and supporting materials.

Determine Scope

During the Determine Scope phase, gather information to understand the purpose of the project/effort and any other factors that will contribute to the communications planning process.

Steps during this phase include: Gather Information, Identify Audience, and Conduct Research.

Resources:

Gather Information

During the Gather Information step, collect information that will contribute to developing a sound communication plan for a new project/effort.

Use the Communications Intake Form Template to:

  • Create a solid foundation of information related to the project to use while developing the project communication plan.
  • Understand & validate the purpose of the project/effort to determine the direction of the communications strategy.
  • Understand the factors that may affect the project/effort communications project including financial, political, and timing issues as well as how the project/effort may integrate with other efforts.

The form may be completed over time as more information is collected. Not all fields may be applicable to every project/effort.

Identify Audience(s)

During the Identify Audience(s) step, determine which audience groups will be addressed and how each group will be impacted.

  • Working with the project/effort team and the information collected in the Intake Form, use the Stakeholder Map Template to identify each audience group affected by the effort. These audiences could include customers, campus leadership, ITS staff and more.
  • Once audiences have been identified, determine the desired roles and behaviors for each group (what they need to know, feel, or do).

Conduct Research

During the Conduct Research step, use resources to define appropriate communication objectives, strategies, and tactics for the project.

Research can be either quantitative or qualitative. External resources such as case studies and industry research can be used. In addition, evaluation results from other completed efforts with similar goals or audiences may be used.

Resources:

  • Focus Groups
  • Interviews
  • Qualtrics Surveys
  • Intake Form
  • Lessons Learned
  • Campus Technology
  • Chronicle of Higher Education
  • MarketingProfs.com,
  • ABC
  • PRSA
  • Ragan Communications
  • Gartner
  • Burton Group
  • Educause

Develop Plans

During the Develop Plans phase, determine the overall communication approach, estimate the communication budget, and develop a detailed communication plan.

Steps during this phase include: Draft Communication Strategy, Finalize/Manage Budget and Build Detailed Communications Plan.

Resources:

Draft Communication Strategy

During the Draft Communication Strategy step, use the background information collected in the Determine Scope phase to develop measurable communication objectives to meet business goals.

From there, develop strategies to achieve the objectives, and identify specific tactics to fulfill each strategy. Communication objectives and strategies should align with the business goals for the project, as well as address audience needs.

Finalize/Manage Communication Budget

During the Finalize Budget step, determine and manage the final communication budget.

Once the budget has been finalized, manage the budget to produce planned deliverables in a timely and cost-effective manner. Ensure that budget is available for all planned tactics or deliverables, and adjust accordingly if not.

Build a Detailed Communication Plan

During the Build a Detailed Communication Plan step, develop the overall plan for all deliverables and tactics.

This plan will be used to track all tasks, dates and assignments related to each tactic or deliverable The plan should include key messages to each audience and metrics to measure the success of the communication effort.

Deliver & Evaluate

During the Deliver & Evaluate phase, communication deliverables are produced and distributed. Success of each tactic or deliverable is tracked and adjustments are made. Once the effort is complete, a final evaluation of all communications is performed.

Steps in this phase include: Deliver, Monitor & Adjust, and Final Evaluation.

Resources:

Execute Communication Plan

During the iterative Execute Communication Plan step, deliver the tactics and deliverables defined in the plan.

This could include the following and more:

  • building or updating websites
  • writing and sending e-mails
  • writing articles or news releases
  • planning events
  • arranging post-event surveys and follow-up
  • publishing print materials
  • managing webcasts
  • getting necessary approvals

The success of this delivery phase will depend heavily on the quality of the planning that has preceded it.

Monitor & Adjust

During the Monitor & Adjust step, track the success of each tactic and make changes to the plan as needed.

As communication deliverables are created and executed, measures (such as using a bit.ly email address or Google Analytics campaign) should be included to monitor success.

If a particular tactic is not working as well as expected, adjust the plan to ensure that communication objectives are achieved.

Resources:

Final Evaluation

During the Final Evaluation step, analyze all the project/effort communications using planned metrics to evaluate the overall success. These metrics could include Lessons Learned meetings with the project team, focus groups, surveys, email tracking, article readership, and more.

If desired, create a report detailing the success of the plan to present to the project team or the executive committee.

Resources: