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Queensland Stay On Your Feet® Toolkit Phase 2

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Step 2D: Decide how to communicate

Once you have a community action plan detailing the falls prevention strategies you will use, you also need to consider how you will communicate your plan to stakeholders along the way.

Communicating well is one of the most important parts of the project/program. Communicating involves more than telling people about your project/program. It includes using communication to effectively engage people, develop partnerships and good working relationships, market your message and to share and celebrate your success. It also includes talking, listening, body language, consultation and exchanging information and ideas [22].

Prepare a communication plan
To be effective, all action plans need to have a linked communication plan. The communication plan should:

  • link communication objectives, strategies and activities to the overall action plan's objectives [22]
  • outline the type and frequency of information to be presented to relevant target audiences
  • detail how and when information will be distributed.

While preparing a communication plan takes time, it will improve the project/program's success and help to keep target audiences and key stakeholders informed about progress.

 

Tools and templates
Sample falls prevention communication plan

An easy way to prepare a communication plan is to provide detailed information about the project/program's communication activities using the following framework:

Communication goal Why you will communicate Clearly define why you are communicating to keep the communication plan in line with the project/program goals, objectives and strategies.
Key messages What you will communicate Decide the main points you want to communicate about the project/program to individuals, organisations and the community. These are called key messages. Key messages need to be simple, clear and conveyed many times through various sources [146] so stakeholders can understand and act on these key messages.
Target group Who you will communicate with Identify who you need to communicate with. Consider both internal and external stakeholders, as communication for these audiences will be quite different. Internal target groups could include: the project/program team, steering committee or other advisory group, consultants and advisers, and volunteers. External target groups could include: older people and their families and carers, stakeholders, including supporters of the project/program, health professionals including GPs and occupational therapists, the community and the funding body. You should also consider the different communication needs of individuals, organisations and the wider community.
Communication tools How you will communicate Use communication tools that best suit your target group/s and the type of information to be communicated. For example, tools used to communicate with the project/program team are likely to be different to those used to communicate with stakeholders and the community.
Timing When you will communicate Timing the delivery of your key messages is important. You often need to repeat key messages through many trusted sources, to make the message stand out from the "clutter" of other information [159]. People accept information slowly over time [158] responding better to a message that is personally relevant [159]. You should also consider any upcoming events in your community, school holidays, and other campaigns when you are deciding the timing of your communication activity.
Implementation Who is responsible for implementing the communication plan

Determine:

  • who is responsible for preparing communication material for the project/program
  • how communication material will be approved, and by whom
  • when communication activities will be undertaken
  • whether there are relevant cultural issues (eg. need for translation of brochures)
  • how privacy legislation may affect your project/program [22].
Evaluation How the plan will be evaluated (measured)

As with your community action plan, you will also need to evaluate your communication plan. To allow evaluation of your communication efforts, record your communication activity using tools like:

For more information on evaluation, see Phase 4.

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Choosing the right communication tools
Common communication tools include:

  • interpersonal communication (eg. talking individually or in small groups, holding meetings)
  • public speaking (eg. giving presentations at seminars, lectures, workshops, forums and conferences)
  • printed materials (eg. leaflets, brochures, fact sheets, newsletters, updates)
  • media (eg. articles in community newsletters, media releases generating newspaper articles and radio/television interviews, paid advertising)
  • internet (eg. email newsletters, website, web discussion groups, web seminars or 'webinars')
  • satellite broadcasts, video conferencing and teleconferencing
  • social marketing opportunities (eg. Facebook, Twitter, blogs)
  • project/program progress reports, intermediate reports, and final evaluation reports.

Make sure you set up an organized stakeholder database so that you can manage contact details privately and efficiently. This will assist you to communicate with key stakeholders more effectively Try and tailor your information so that it is of personal relevance to the receiver. Mass produced letters and emails are often ignored.

Messages can be passed on in many ways, including through face-to-face contact, telephone calls, text messages and email. Do not underestimate the power of word-of-mouth communication (also known as 'the grapevine'). This is when a person tells another about your project/program. This type of communication is powerful because the person spreading the message is known to the receiver and is considered a trustworthy and credible source. Technology makes this kind of marketing cost effective.

To inform people about your project/program, try attending existing meetings of community groups and health professional networks, rather than holding additional meetings and expect people to be able come to them [22].

 

When communicating with...  Consider...
individuals
  • working with health professionals, as they are considered a trusted source of information
project/program team or steering committees
  • project updates
  • face to face meetings
funding bodies
  • formal progress and final reports
  • face to face meetings
  • email and telephone contact
small groups
  • presentations
  • forums
  • social events
organisations
  • meetings with decision makers
  • speaking at staff training meetings
community
  • large public events eg. launch
  • newsletters
  • printed resources
  • mass media (newspapers, radio and television)
  • internet/email

 

Tools and techniques
Communication tools
Reach and marketing
Social marketing
Key messages
Awareness raising
Community engagement
Ambassadors

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Do you need a communication or social marketing plan?
A communication plan simply plans and keeps track of communication activities (allowing process evaluation), whereas a social marketing plan sets measurable objectives for change in the target group as a result of communication activities (allowing impact and outcome evaluation). As a minimum, all projects require a communication plan to ensure you are reaching your target group and stakeholders.

If you are planning to use communication as a strategy to influence behaviour change, you may also need to prepare a more comprehensive social marketing plan. When using social marketing to encourage change, consider setting goals related to awareness, knowledge, attitudes, skills, behaviour, the environment, and policies and practice. You might also find it useful to look at models and theories of change. Staffing and financial resources may influence this decision.

 

Tools and templates
Preparing a social marketing plan
Reach and marketing

 

You have now completed Phase 2

By the end of Phase 2, you will have prepared a community action plan detailing the most effective strategies for your local community, based on evidence and your priorities, and determined how to communicate, monitor progress and evaluate your success.

You are now ready to move to Phase 3: Implement

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Last updated: 10 October 2012