Skip main navigation

How to build a communications strategy

Best programs alone won't suffice. Effective communication is crucial to reach the right audience and maximise impact.
Business People Meeting Design Ideas Concept

As we’ve discovered, merely having the best program isn’t enough. It’s essential to effectively communicate about it, ensuring that the right people know, understand, and buy into your program goals and the elements surrounding it.

Read the following 10-step process to to develop a robust communications strategy to make sure your strategy is understood and embraced by the people who need to engage with it, or advocate for it.

1. Start with ‘why’

Before you start drafting emails or designing presentation slides, it’s crucial to be crystal clear on why you’re creating the leadership development program in the first place:

  • What does it mean to your organisation?
  • What will you be able to achieve because this initiative is in place?
  • What does it mean to the people you’re communicating with?

Simon Sinek, in his famous TED Talk, spoke about the importance of starting with the ‘why’. People don’t buy what you do, they don’t buy how you do it, they buy into the why. Your ‘why’ becomes the core message in all your communications, ensuring everyone understands the value and purpose of the program.

2. Define your audience

Understanding your target audience is key. While it might seem like “everyone” should know about the program, be strategic in tailoring your messages: Are you speaking to potential program participants, current leadership or HR teams? Each group has unique needs and concerns, so cater your message accordingly.

3. Choose your channels

There’s a myriad of ways to communicate in today’s digital age: from emails, webinars, intranet posts, town hall meetings, and so much more. Decide on the most effective channels for your organisation and audience. Take a look at the video on communications scaffolding for ideas on how to balance the use of your channels.

4. Create a timeline

Stagger your communications rather than inundating your audience with information. Start with an announcement, followed by detailed information, reminders, and then regular updates. Plotting these out on a timeline ensures consistent communication without overwhelming your audience.

5. Develop clear and compelling content

Clarity is paramount. Your communication should be free from jargon and be concise. Use compelling storytelling techniques, perhaps showcasing success stories of leaders who went through similar programs in the past. This makes the content relatable and inspiring.

6. Foster two-way communication

While it’s important to disseminate information about the program, it’s equally crucial to create avenues for feedback. Host Question and Answer sessions, feedback forms, or town halls to allow stakeholders to voice concerns, ask questions, and provide input.

7. Measure and adjust

Like any strategy, it’s essential to measure the effectiveness of your communications. Are people reading the emails? How many are attending your informational sessions? Use analytics and feedback to continuously refine your communications strategy.

8. Be transparent

In all your communications, be transparent. If there are selection criteria for the program, state them clearly. If there are limited spots available, let that be known. Trust is the foundation of any effective communication, and transparency fosters trust.

9. Ensure consistency

Whether it’s the message tone, the design, or the frequency of your communication, ensure there’s consistency. This not only strengthens the brand of your leadership development program but also reduces confusion among your audience.

10. Celebrate and share success stories

As your leadership development program progresses, there will be successes. Celebrate them! Share stories of individuals who have grown, projects that have succeeded, and milestones achieved through the program. This reinforces the value of the initiative and serves as motivation for others. See the section on communicating results and success stories in Topic 6 for more ideas.

Without a solid communications strategy, your leadership development strategy’s impact can be diminished. Remember, your communications strategy isn’t just about broadcasting information, it’s about building connections, fostering understanding, and ensuring your initiative’s sustained success.

Share your thoughts

Reflect and share your insights: How do you effectively communicate your program’s ‘why’ to ensure buy-in from your audience?
This article is from the free online

Designing and Implementing a Leadership Development Strategy

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now