This year I’ve had the chance to provide one-on-one training/coaching in strategic communications planning in two different ways with two very different clients. And, they have both been great!
My usual method to teach the skills of “kick ass” strategic communications planning is to conduct two-day seminars with the whole communications team in a particular workplace. I follow the best practices approach used by IABC and customize the content to meet the needs of the particular work team. We explore selected Gold Quill winning case studies as good examples. I teach the content of all the elements of an excellent strategic communications plan. And, we work together to apply those concepts to one of their real life projects. In addition, I usually layer on a good dollop of “consulting skills for communicators” to help the team build their competencies there as well. I’ve taught these sessions many times and always had great results. But, what to do when the client then hires a new communicator who they want to bring up to speed? Or the team is only one communicator? That was my challenge.
One client was in Ontario and a “distance” learning option made the most sense. So, we tried something new. I taught the content in one-hour Skype sessions usually a week or two apart. The client then did “homework” on each section applying what she learned to a plan she was accountable to deliver at the end of our session. I reviewed and critiqued each assignment as they were submitted. She conducted the internal client interviews, did the research, analyzed what she learned, identified target audiences, developed goals and objectives, wrote key messages and proof points and then developed her tactical plan and evaluation strategy. At the end of the sessions, that one new communicator had learned the same communication planning process and structure as her colleagues AND developed an excellent communications plan for a real project. This style of teaching/learning was very successful and I hope to do more of it as the opportunity arises.