Develop a Communications Plan
It is worthwhile to agree to and develop a communications plan so that everyone involved in TAM can help provide the most efficient and effective messaging. The four steps described in this How-To Guide provide an overview on crafting a communications plan that will use the right communication mechanism to reach the intended audience.
Determine the scope of communications
Who is the target with TAM-related communications? The typical audiences for communication include internal DOT staff, the legislature, and the public. It is also important to consider the goal for communicating to each of these audiences. This helps to shape and focus the communications activities developed later on. Here are some examples of the focus of communications for suggested audiences:
- For internal DOT staff, the goal of communication could be to convey the asset management processes in place within the agency in order to help staff understand how their work fits into the overall asset management functions.
- For the legislature, the goal of communication could be to describe the importance of asset management, the work being done with state and federal dollars to improve and promote asset management, and the need for continued funding to support TAM activities.
- For the public, the goal of communication could also include information on the importance of asset management. In addition, it could be worthwhile to convey the decision-making process in order to increase openness and transparency about how money is spent on projects throughout the state
A communication plan could address different strategies for different audiences. A TAM communication plan could be the sum of plans for individual audiences. This approach would separate the communication products that would be developed for multiple audiences.
Determine the types of communications
It is useful to brainstorm and document all the different types of communication products available to utilize and implement. Types of communication include:
- Websites and webpages
- Public relations via local news outlets
- Public events
- PowerPoint presentations
- Brochures and reports
Combining the scope and the communication products will help to decide the level of detail and the visualizations needed to achieve the communication objectives.
Determine the specific communications-related activities
After developing a list of all the relevant communications opportunities available, it is possible to decide which specific activities to pursue in order to reach all the targeted audiences. This step is the substance of the communication plan. What type of communication should be used to provide information to each audience? What is the timeline for developing and delivering the communication materials? It is helpful to describe each activity in as much detail as possible so that the intent and implementation process are clear. Examples of communications related activities include:
- Offering a workshop for DOT staff and other stakeholders
- Developing a webpage dedicated to TAM
- Publicizing TAM activities via local news outlets
- Publishing reports and/or data on assets
- Attending legislature meetings
Document the plan and assign roles and responsibilities
The last step is to document the communication plan including the scope, types of communication available, and the description and timeline for specific communications activities. It is best to assign roles and responsibilities to each activity, so that the communication plan is implemented effectively.