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The 5 W's of Communication
Ensuring communications are effective - that is reach their target and hit the mark in terms of what you want people to understand and remember – is a skill. Below are some tips for you to think about the next time you’re nominated as the spokesperson, or you need to craft up a communications plan. I call them the 5 W’s.
..Should be told?
- Everyone who needs to be told about something should be told
- Openness is the key (although there will always be some things which are not disseminated as widely as others)
..Should they be told?
- All affected employees should be told at the same time to avoid spread of rumours
- Brief those internally before those externally. You don’t want staff finding out about change from the media.
- Make an announcement following a significant event or decision
.. What should they be told? - use Problem, Solution, Action thinking
- Tell them Why (we are doing this/need to change)
- Tell them what results you are looking for
- Tell them what you will be doing differently
- Tell them what this means for them
..Should the message be conveyed?
- Choose the most effective means of getting your message across. Check your communications channels are working for you.
- The kick-off should always be verbal communication from the most senior person. Written and electronic material is good as a follow-up and reinforces information. Make sure your message gets across to the right people to avoid rumours and hearsay.
..Should control it?
- If it is a critical part of the programme’s success; responsibility should lie with the most senior executive.
- The project manager will normally have input into it
- Human Resources will normally be consulted
- Any communications people, if appropriate, will normally be involved