How to get the best from your project communication lead

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Everyone would agree that getting the communication right is one of the keys to project success. I wonder if everyone would also agree that communication is a specialist skill and as such should be the role of a professional communicator. I certainly believe that it should. But employing a communication specialist is only part of the answer how does the busy project manager get the best from his or her comms colleague? Here are some tips from perspective of the communicator:

1.Involve him or her at the very start. If there isnt a fit for purpose communication and engagement strategy there from the off, it can be hard to make up ground later.

2.Seek their advice, rather than provide them with solutions. It can be frustrating for the communication professional to be told to deliver a poster campaign when that may not be the best solution.

3.Take time to discuss and agreed the communication strategy objectives. Ensure that they are relevant, measurable and most important of all focussed on outcomes not outputs. Having an objective to deliver a number of events or quantity of briefings is useful, but you need to know that they have achieved the outcome you need to help your project succeed.

4.Integrate communication into your project board agenda. For every item ask what are the implications for communication? Of course communication should also be a standalone item where you receive an update on progress but avoid it always being the last item on the agenda, it always gets rushed when this is the case.

5.Communication is two-way which means listening to stakeholder feedback but also being prepared to act on it where possible. Look to your communication lead to plan and facilitate this dialogue.

Communication on projects is a strategic function that can sometimes make the difference between success and failure to realise benefits its about a lot more than the project S.O.S (Sending Out Stuff!).

Ann Pilkington

Posted by Ann Pilkington on 30th Jan 2017

About the Author

Ann is the author of Communicating Projects published by Gower and a chapter author in Exploring Internal Communication published by Gower. As an independent communication consultant she specialises in leading communication on major change programmes. She is also a director of PR Academy which is a leading providers of education and training in all aspects of communication. Her early career was in journalism before moving to PR and communication rolls with major companies including Barclays, BT and The AA. She has sat the People SIG and is also a fellow of the RSA where she volunteers her communication expertise to help members' projects.

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