Over the years I have worked with a lot of clients to put together a communication toolkit.
These are a great way to share communication skills and spread consistency. Particularly when you have people whose natural impulse is to start by deciding on a channel, without thought for their purpose, audience or outcome.
Toolkits can be used in a variety of scenarios. For example:
- Support colleagues who are not professional communicators, but whose role requires them to involve others in their work.
- Encourage a wider network of people to communicate effectively about their project when the central communications team doesn’t have the resource to support all projects.
- Remind people who have received communications training how to put those skills into practice day-to-day.
- Encourage consistency, of message and channel use, across large (or small, for that matter) organisations with lots going on at any one time.
If you face any of these situations, it’s a good idea to consider putting together a set of resources that will help your colleagues produce communication that works.
What to include in your communication toolkit
There is no right or wrong list of components. To some extent, your contents list will depend on your purpose for having a toolkit in the first place. So I would recommend that you start by thinking about who will use the resources, what they can already do and what are the gaps in their comms experience.
Here are some suggestions for things you might need to include:
Communications planning template
Something which helps a non-comms-professional to plan their communication well is a good starting point; help them avoid the ad hoc, scatter-gun approach of sending out emails, tweets and web posts. Provide a list of questions that reminds them to start with why, think about their audience and plan their message.
You might even point them towards something like the 5-whys technique to get clear on their purpose.
Audience ‘intelligence’ information
Communication is only going to work if they put themselves in their audience’s shoes. They can only do that if they know something about them. Share what you already know about the things that interest and motivate different groups. That way they won’t have to start from scratch.
- Writing style guides.
- How to choose a great image guides.
- 10 tips for shooting engaging videos.
- How to tell a gripping story.
Anything that delivers practical advice on producing content will be a winner (as long as it is well done itself, of course – who realistically (and I say this with love) will read the entire brand style guidelines unless they are in the comms and marketing team?)
Evaluation of communications seems daunting enough to those of us who do it regularly. Sharing your framework is a great way to help others who have less experience. It will also boost the quality of data and feedback that you have access to.
Channel selector tool
Something to help identify the most appropriate methods of communication for different purposes. Each of your organisation’s channels should have a defined objective: to act as a trusted information source, to encourage debate, to provide news that inspires action etc. You need to tell everyone what those purposes are. This tool will enable the user to match the outcome they want to achieve with the best channel(s) to achieve it. Or to avoid the ones that definitely won’t.
The format you use for your organisation’s communications toolkit will depend on who will be using it and what technology is available to you. It’s tempting to think something interactive and whizzy is what you need, but I’ve seen really simple documents and spreadsheets work just as well.
The key is to get people using it.
If you would like help putting together a communication toolkit for your organisation – or with any other aspect of making communication at your organisation work – get in touch.
Until next time
A version of this article first appeared on my LinkedIn profile in September 2020.