Communication must be managed actively and according to a clear concept if it is to be effective. The type of communication must be adequate for the information that needs to be transmitted and appropriate for the public for whom it is destined. It is necessary to define rules for all types of information exchange, i.e. meetings, discussions, workshops etc. and also for the way information is transmitted. The following are examples of the type of information that could be appropriate for each recipient:
Public health information which draws attention to the importance of a particular health topic and its relevance for public health policies.
Lobbying is a good way of exerting a certain pressure on political departments and public services and drawing their attention to a particular topic (see 'Lobbying').
Regular reports regarding the advanchsent of the project according to previous agrehsent. It is usually the project leader who is in charge of communicating with the client. It is he or she who will decide who will inform whom and when and about what.
Why you would disregard these aspects
- Communication within the team is an often forgotten issue and is handled in old established ways.
- Information is transmitted spontaneously and informally, 'on the hop', particularly when the team is small and when it is assumed that all collaborators are sufficiently informed at all times.
- You do not think that external communication needs to be planned.
- Nobody feels particularly responsible for communication and important channels therefore remain underexploited.
What you have to gain
Well managed internal communication:
- enables collaborators to pass on information systematically
- avoids collaborators' impression of being passed over when information is transmitted
- clarifies questions about the project's intentions and objectives.
Well managed external communication:
- promotes an attractive and coherent 'image' of the project
- assures high visibility and conveys professionalism
- facilitates good information of target-groups and project partners
- increases acceptance of the project.
If a person is formally responsible for communication:
- the issue of communication will be considered sufficiently important
- one person at least will dedicate some time to cultivating contacts
- important information will be transmitted to the right people at the right time.
What you can actually do
For a big project it is necessary to put a collaborator in charge of communication. This person will have the task of developing a communication strategy and will be responsible for its implementation. Define communication objectives together:
- what needs to be achieved by external communication
- who ought to be informed about the project
- at what moment
- by which means
Develop or delegate someone to develop a communication strategy that is transparent and comprehensible for all involved. The communication strategy has to correspond to the size of the project.
Questions for critical reflection
- Is there a communication strategy in place that fixes the rules of internal and external communication?
- Are these rules adhered to and is the communication strategy regularly checked and adapted?