10 tips on comms strategy

It was the usual sun kissed and balmy day on Tyneside when the NHS hosted a session on communications strategy in Newcastle.

The theme was developing, delivering and evaluating a communications strategy that works and I was asked to run a session offering some advice based on my 5 years in the NHS so far.

Thanks to all the other speakers who really provided loads of interesting and informative stuff about strategy, mergers, engagement, change management and digital within the health service.

My rambling set of slides probably doesn’t make much sense without the commentary so here’s a very quick guide to the ten tips I presented on the day.

#1 Have a strong sense of purpose before doing anything. Why are we here? What does the organisation want or need?

#2 OST. Think Objectives/Strategy/Tactics even for the smallest project. Don’t rush to tactics without doing the thinking first.

#3 Simplicity. There’s a true beauty in simplicity & strategy should be no different. A bit more on that here.

#4 “Everyone has a strategy until they get punched in the teeth, “ Iron Mike Tyson. Plans should be flexible and adaptable so you can roll with the punches.

#5 At the core of our role should be the ability to tell an organisational story to a range of different publics in a way that engages them with the overall objectives. Does your strategy consider that?

#6 Trust. Your strategy must look at how you will build and win trust in an age when this is proving more and more difficult for institutions. The answer will often be in the spokespeople you decide to use.

#7 Metrics, measurement and feedback. This is probably the most obvious tip buy it’s also important to think about how you will communicate the evaluation to the rest of the organisation.

#8 Don’t try to do everything. Good strategy is the choice of one path over another. A bit more on that here. 

#9 Leverage. Like Archimedes with his lever what small advantage does your organisation hold that you can harness to get a much larger impact? What is your USP? What do you want to be famous for?

#10 the NHS is the ultimate people business and your frontline staff are the stars. Their work should be at the heart of a comms strategy.

As a final note I can’t stress enough how valuable these free sessions are particularly to people like us out in the regions.You can find more information here: https://improvement.nhs.uk/resources/engagement-communications-development-programme/

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