“Your Communications Plan”
First step: Choose a topic. Review the Communication Challenge Topics and choose one that is relevant and interesting to you. Make sure to review the examples and anecdotes that follow each topic in this document. You can also find this information under the Course Info tab.
Second step: Review the Strategic Communication Plan example. Your plan should mirror this example in format and length. You can also find this example under the Course Info tab.
Third step: In this discussion, please respond to the following:
Part 1: What is your topic?
Part 2: Provide a rough draft of your Strategic Communications Plan for peer review and instructor feedback. Your draft should include enough detail that we can provide strong constructive feedback and input.
COMMUNICATION CHALLENGE TOPICS
In the world of business, we can create opportunities through strategic communication. Throughout our professional careers, there are key events that raise the stakes of our communications approach.
WHAT YOU’LL DO
1) Review the Communication Challenge Topics and their accompanying case study examples.
2) Select 1 topic that is professionally relevant for you.
3) Use for your COM510 assignments (the topic you have selected, not the case study example).
Note: If there is another challenge or current opportunity in your professional life that is more relevant for you, you may choose a topic that is not on this list. Keep in mind that the communication challenge you select must in- clude both written and verbal communication elements to meet the needs of this course. (Your professor must approve your selection before you proceed.)
Examples of each scenario are provided to demonstrate what thoughtful, professional communication would look like in each of these situations. These are only examples and should not be used for completing the assignment. You can create and establish all necessary assumptions. The scenario is yours to explain.
COMMUNICATION CHALLENGE TOPICS
Choose one of the following topics for your assignments.
• Internal Promotion Opportunity
• New Job Opportunity Interview
• Running a Meeting
• Coaching Your Direct Employees
• Pitching a Project Idea
Seeking a promotion from within your company is one opportunity in which strategic communication could mean the difference be- tween success and failure. If you choose this scenario, you’ll need to create both a written and a verbal (audio or video) communica- tion. These elements should explain why you are the right person for the internal promotion while addressing potential questions you might need to answer as part of the process.
Things to Consider
• Have you checked the listings on your company’s job board lately?
• Is there a new position you would like to secure?
• Have you taken on more responsibility at work?
• Have your outcomes been positive?
• Do your job title and job description match what you do? (If your job description is inaccurate, be sure to mention this when you are interviewing and/or negotiating.)
Case Study Example — Internal Promotion
Kim has been working at the XYZ Company for two years. She is interested in an internal position that has just opened up. The new job involves more responsibility and would require her to supervise personnel for the first time in her career. She believes she brings a number of strengths to this opportunity. The position would mean reporting to a different manager. It would also include a significant increase in salary and a supervisor title. Kim’s annual reviews have been good and she believes her current manager would recom- mend her for the new position.
Kim first emails her boss a carefully worded email to set up a time to discuss the job opening in person. She has thoughtfully planned her approach to engage the support of her current manager. Next, Kim emails the HR representative hosting the position to formally express her interest. She copies her current manager on the email and submits her application through the company’s application portal.
These carefully planned and executed steps result in Kim receiving an email from the hiring manager. She gets an invitation to inter- view for the position. Each step in Kim’s application process has built support for her candidacy in a strategic, meaningful way. She asked probing questions to gain insight into the department, job, and the individuals who were involved in the hiring process. This allows her to arrive for the interview with solid support and a firm knowledge base from which to draw in answering the interviewers’ questions.
NEW JOB OPPORTUNITY INTERVIEW
Every new job opportunity represents a chance to improve your pro- fessional position. Strategic communication is critical to make the best first impression, navigate the screening and recruiting process, and secure the job through an interview (or series of them). If you choose this scenario, you’ll need to create both a written and a ver- bal (audio or video) communication. These elements should explain why you are the right person for the job while addressing the types of questions interviewers might ask.
Things to Consider
• Do you follow the latest job listings relative to your area of expertise and industry?
• Do you have an interview opportunity or position in mind for which you would like to apply?
• Do your research, write a cover letter, and prepare for an interview that highlights your skill set. How can you bring value to the company? How would you prepare for the initial and follow-up interviews?
Case Study Example — New Job Opportunity
Pat is not satisfied in his finance job with a non-profit organization. He wants to move to a fast-growth start-up business. His methodi- cal online searching has yielded what seems like a great opportuni- ty in a new technology firm locally. He is further encouraged when he learns that a former colleague is already working there.
Pat considers how best to reach out to his former colleague. He re- members that she is an active LinkedIn member and decides first to send her a message through the site. He tells her of his interest in the company and the position, asks a few probing questions about the department, and then spends time reviewing the company web- site and researching the firm online. Using sites like Glassdoor.com, he learns a great deal about the company’s culture, its current areas of focus, and even salary ranges and typical interview questions;
After several days without news, Pat follows up with his former col- league. Knowing that she has welcomed calls in the past, he makes a quick phone call to her to affirm his interest in the company. Pat’s coworker provides him with great insights into the firm and sends an email to a manager in the department where Pat wants to work. She personally recommends Pat to this manager.
In the meantime, Pat carefully drafts a cover letter, updates his resume, and completes the online application. He begins preparing for interview questions, listing questions he has about the company, and brainstorming the best way to present himself to meet the pos-
sible needs of the company. In this way, he will arrive for the inter- view fully prepared to make his best, most confident presentation.
RUNNING A MEETING
Meetings are all about strategic communication, or they should be. If you don’t communicate strategically, you’ll waste attendees’ time and even lose control of the meeting. If you choose this scenario, you’ll need to create both a written and a verbal (audio or video) communication. These elements should address why you hold meetings, how you call them, how you conduct them, and how you follow up on them for the most meaningful impact and efficient use of attendees’ time.
Things to Consider
• Do you have an important meetings coming up, for which you’ll need to prepare?
makes a meeting exceptional?
• Is the objective set and clear?
• Are agendas sent out in advance?
• Are only essential personnel invited?
• Is the meeting actively facilitated to ensure prog-
ress toward the objective?
• Are action items and decisions recorded?
• Is a follow-up communication sent? If so, how? If not, why not?
Case Study Example — Plan a Productive Meeting to Improve Team Performance
Melinda and her team, including employees Jane and Jim, made a sales presentation to a prospect company yesterday. Melinda does not think the presentation went well and wants to make sure the team does better next time. She believes several factors contrib-
uted to the team’s lack of success. Jane seemed distracted and unprepared, while Jim made several mistakes in presenting and representing data during the presentation. The prospect noticed these mistakes and pointed them out.
Melinda believes it was a mistake not to require a rehearsal before the meeting. She thinks her team was unprepared. To address these issues, Melinda calls a meeting through the company’s scheduling software, careful to use encouraging, concise, and direct language in calling the meeting, and clearly explaining the meeting’s purpose (without making accusations). While she waits for attend- ees to respond, she drafts her communication plan for that meet- ing. Her goal is to make sure team members will be receptive to productive criticism and ready to contribute to a discussion about the team’s performance. Her meeting agenda reflects this.
Prior to the meeting, Melinda writes an outline on notecards to help her stay on track. She will first explain why the after-action meeting is important. She will then walk all three participants through an assessment of the prior sales meeting, presenting each issue as an opportunity for improvement. She will explain that she is not as- signing blame. Rather, she, along with her team, should take this op- portunity to learn from the prior meeting in order to improve future presentations. She incorporates questions into her outline, making sure all involved will be included in the discussion and the solution that this discussion generates.
Fully prepared for a productive meeting, Melinda is confident that she can secure her team’s support and buy-in for improved presen- tations in the future. She intends to be better prepared for all future sales prospects and believes this meeting is the first productive step toward that goal.
COACHING YOUR DIRECT EMPLOYEES
Coaching direct employees is an excellent example of strategic communication. It can be very difficult to offer constructive criti- cism, suggestions, or direction to an employee without alienating, offending, or otherwise upsetting that person. Motivating personnel requires a strategic approach that secures their buy-in and support.
This is more effective than simply trying to force compliance. If you choose this scenario, you’ll need to create both a written and
a verbal (audio or video) communication. These elements should address why you need to coach the employee, how you will choose to do so, and what you’ll cover when you present your constructive criticism, feedback, and input.
Things to Consider
• Do you have direct employees, or will you be responsible for direct-reports in the future?
• Have you identified issues that represent opportunities for improvement?
• Have your past coaching sessions been well received? Why or why not?
• In your experience with coaching from managers and other business leaders, what approaches motivated you best? Which motivated you least?
• What approach and channel would you employ to coach your direct employee(s)?
Case Study Example — Providing Constructive Feedback to Achieve Shared Goals
Jonas has been working day and night on a sales proposal for Acme Furniture, potentially the largest client for his company. Jonas’ assistant Heidi has been working alongside him and under- stands how important this pitch is to the company. Heidi has also been supporting another manager whose assistant is on family leave for a month. Both Jonas and Heidi feel tired and overworked. They are glad this big project will soon be completed.
Jonas arranges to meet Heidi at 7:30 a.m. to retrieve the final hand- outs for a 9:00 a.m. pitch meeting at Acme. He is there at 7:15, and at 7:45, Heidi still has not arrived. She isn’t answering his texts or calls, either. Frustrated, Jonas goes to her office and rummages through her desk until he finds a folder marked “Acme Furniture”
with the handouts inside. He races to make the meeting at Acme.
Too late, Jonas realizes that the handouts are an older version con- taining typographical errors. They are not the most recent, error-free versions of the presentation. Jonas chooses not to use the flawed handouts. He makes the pitch, upset about Heidi’s failure and con- cerned about the quality of the presentation.
Jonas returns to the office and plans for a conversation with Heidi. He drafts an email to her requesting an in-person meeting, careful not to put her on the defensive. Ideally, his email will leave her re- ceptive to constructive criticism. To prepare for this meeting, Jonas creates a list of bullet points to cover in their conversation. His goal is to engage her on what happened, sharing his point of view, and asking for hers. He intends to work with her to find an effective solution that prevents such mistakes in the future. Fully prepared for a productive, collaborative discussion that avoids blame while seeking mutual benefit for both parties, Jonas is confident they can work out a series of best practices and processes for future sales presentations.
PITCHING A PROJECT IDEA
Pitching projects, making proposals, and other presentations that seek the audience’s approval, support, and buy-in represents a very real strategic communication challenge. The success or failure
of your pitch relies directly on how you make that pitch and how persuasive your message proves to be. If you choose this scenario, you’ll need to create both a written and a verbal (audio or video) communication. These elements should address what your pitch is, how your pitch will be delivered, and what will (hopefully) make that pitch successful.
Things to Consider
• What is it you are pitching? What is your key message? Who is your audience? What action are you asking of them?
• What challenges exist that could prevent you from se- curing an approval? Are there challenges that are out of your control? Are there some that you could influence?
• Whose support would make your pitch more likely to succeed? How can you approach these personnel to secure their buy-in prior to your pitch?
• Do pitches of this type have a history of success or fail- ure where your audience is concerned?
• What is the most effective channel for delivering your pitch?
Case Study Example — Constructing an Effective Project Proposal
Max is the marketing coordinator at a very successful construction firm. He believes that the company’s website is out of date and does not accurately represent or market the construction firm to its customers, subcontractors, vendors, and employees.
Max wants the executive team, including his own manager, to ap- prove a new website project and its budget. This project will be led by Max.
Max has also learned that his predecessor, the former marketing coordinator for the construction firm, proposed the same thing to the executive team two years ago. The team voted no at the time. Determined to achieve a different outcome, Max intends to have the new website approved and funded by management. It is his under- standing that the former marketing team misrepresented figures on the potential success of the website. He believes this fact can be used to persuade management concerning the benefits of his plan.
Max develops a communications plan for accomplishing this ob- jective. He first drafts an email to the executive team participants, asking for a meeting in a way that he hopes will bring them to that meeting with open minds. He then creates a list of bullet points for
a preliminary in-person conversation with his boss. The goal of the conversation is to make sure his boss is onboard with his plan and learn what his boss thinks would make for a successful presenta- tion to the executive team.
Finally, Max scripts his presentation to the executive team, persuad- ing them to approve and fund the website project using compelling supporting information. He intends to rehearse his presentation until he knows it backward and forward. He will deliver the pre- sentation with confidence, secure in the knowledge that he is fully prepared for any arguments the executive team might make, any questions they might ask, and any criticism they might offer regard- ing his plan.