The purpose of working systematically with communications, as a part of your partnership is to align, show support and plan the messaging around the partnership, and to facilitate effective and efficient communications with and between internal and external stakeholders.
Effective communication can serve the following purposes:
- Create public awareness and goodwill on the partnership and project.
- Strengthen reputation and brand of the partnering organisations.
- Enable strong personal relations, alignment and trust between partners.
- Display support from management as to why the partnership is important to the organisation.
- Ensure proper timing and relevance of the communication.
From the start, it is important that you have in place a clear plan for communication about the partnership.
A communication plan and targets should support the achievement of the overall objectives of the partnership.
Different levels of communication:
Communicating internally / externally on the partnership itself
E.g. issuing articles announcing that the respective partners have joined forces etc.
Communicating internally / externally on the joint project that you implement
E.g. communicating progress and results of the joint project to build internal and/or external awareness.
Communicating within the project team
E.g. day-to-day communication with your partners ensuring trust, transparency and efficient collaboration.
Communicating internally to ensure organisational support, buy-in and ownership
E.g. internal communication to ensure that the organisation is onboard, showing the organisational value, while displaying management’s commitment to the partnership and joint project.
The same four-step process applies for both internal and external communication;
Define who your key audiences are
Identify key messages to that audience
Design your tactical outreach plan aligned with targets in order to reach the audience
Develop your communication materials and implement the outreach plan
Cross-sector partnerships challenge ‘business as usual’ and bring changes to each of the partnering organisations. With this outset, it is critical that the partnering organisations verbalises this process of change, and actively communicate that this partnership requires an extraordinary effort. To challenge ‘business as usual’ requires strong backing from top management, which must be consistently communicated – in words and action.
Internal project communication
Sectors typically have different ways of communicating and collaborating, which can be a challenge for a joint Project Group. Internal project communication is key to overcome these challenges, as it helps you build a shared language that enables openness, alignment and trust between partners. Taking the necessary time to build strong personal relations between the partners cannot be emphasised enough.
When you initiate the project, you should agree on a ‘modus operandi’ for the project group that clarifies fixed meeting intervals, agenda items, meeting minutes, responsibilities, joint tools and platforms etc. to use for communicating.