Donovan Group Insights

The 4 Fundamental Communications Questions

Communication involves a lot more than just sending your message out into the world. You have to consider what your message is, who’s receiving it, how you’ll send it and what success looks like to you. The following questions can help you make the most of your communications efforts.

1. What is success?

Before communicating with stakeholders, you need to define a clear picture of success. Identify what you want to get out of your communications efforts. Once you have an end goal in mind, decide which analytics would be the most helpful for tracking progress toward that goal.

Defining success is a critical part to any communications plan. It helps you visualize where the district currently stands in relation to where the district needs to be. A clear picture of success can guide your communications efforts in the right direction.

2. Who are the stakeholders?

Every time you communicate with stakeholders, you have to consider who exactly is receiving the message. Think about who would benefit the most from what you have to say. Rather than sending a general message to the whole community, tailor that message to a few specific stakeholder groups.

You have to keep your audience in mind. If you try to communicate with everyone, you’ll end up communicating with no one. Tailoring your message to a specific group can help increase engagement because you’re speaking in a way that resonates with that group.

3. What are the messages?

Before you communicate, you have to figure out what you’re going to say. Don’t communicate simply to communicate. There always has to be a message (or several messages) behind your communications efforts.

Identifying the key messages will help you communicate with purpose. Messages are what allow stakeholders to walk away with new insights or, at the very least, a strong emotional response to what was said. In other words, stakeholders should always get something out of your communications efforts.

4. What tools will I use?

You know what your key messages are, and you know who needs to hear them. Now, you have to decide which tools will ferry those messages to your stakeholders. The tools could be email, print materials, social media or any other form of communication.

Using the right tools can help you connect with the right people. Maybe one group prefers receiving letters in the mail, while another gets all their updates through social media. You’ll have a better chance of reaching stakeholders when you communicate through the channels they use the most.

Communication always comes with a bit of preparation. Next time you need to communicate with stakeholders, ask yourself these four fundamental communications questions. The answers can help set you up for success.

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