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The Top Five Questions Organizational Leaders Should Ask their Communications Managers

Whether you are the CAO of a municipality, the ED of a major non-profit, or the CEO of a corporation, the leaders in every organization recognize the need for strategic, effective, and measurable communications. Hopefully, you have trained and capable communications professionals leading the charge and they are well aware of what’s required of them and the needs of your organization’s various audiences, but if you’re unsure if the mark is being met, or what that mark should look like, here are five things you should be asking your communications team to ensure your communications efforts aren’t falling flat:

  1. Do we have a Communications Master Plan in place? Communications master plans are one of the most useful documents for an organization. Essentially, it is the strategic plan and should be tied directly to it and any other guiding documents your organization uses. Typically, they are created using both internal and external consultation, which can be as simple as sending out a survey and cover a range of three to five years.
  2. When was the last time we completed a Communications Audit? A communications audit is a powerful tool used to identify gaps in your communications efforts. A full-scale audit (or what I like to call a self-accreditation) should be conducted at least as often as you update the master plan with higher level environmental scans being held annually. You’ll want to ask a variety of questions including What were the results? What will be doing or have we done to solve any issues?
  3. Which Communications Policies do we have in place? gaps? etc. Do you know which policies are required for communications? The most common are social media, website, engagement, sponsorship, corporate identity, and crisis communications. When is the last time these policies were reviewed? Are they still relevant?
  4. When is the last time we updated our Crisis Communications Plan? Every single organization should have a crisis communication plan. If you’re a small non-profit, it might only be a one-pager, and perhaps embedded in your policy, about who to contact if you have an issues management or crisis situation arise. For a municipality, in most provinces, you’re mandated to have an emergency response plan and communications should be a major component of that.
  5. Will we be providing any Communications Training to our Council and Staff? Training and workshops should be provided to key staff, especially the Senior Leadership Team and management team. Training might include media relations, spokesperson, speechwriting, social media, etc. When everyone is on the same page, it makes for better branding because you have a cohesive vision and voice, and it also creates effectiveness especially in a time of a crisis or emergency situation.

The best time to have this conversation with your comms team is as a section of the strategic planning for your organization. Often, communications is overlooked as a major operations component, and yet, it’s the driving force between you and success when it comes to creating relationships with your audiences.

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