I was a Georgetown Hoya for a day last Wednesday. I took a one-day training course on strategic communications planning offered by the Center for Professional and Continuing Education located near the Clarendon Metro in North Virginia. I think the location worked better because of its Metro accessibility than in the eponymous neighborhood where their flagship campus is located in Northwest Washington D.C. Despite the bus connections to Georgetown (the neighborhood), it missed out an opportunity to be connected to the Metro, but that is another story.
The one-day class is part of the seven-class Certificate in Social Media for Government targeted to professionals who
have to deal with bureucracy and harness the convening power of institutions through effective communication. Many of my classmates in fact worked for the US federal government. I don’t particularly work for a government agency, but it’s something close. My organization is in fact not an organization, but a funding facility or a network, whose clients are governments, in addition to non-government organizations. In my work as a moderator of an online community of practice of evaluators working on climate change and development, the member-audience deal with a more refined type of technical information. It’s easy to blast tweets and newsletters by email, but when you have a more nuanced audience, a more strategic communication approach is imperative.
There are many communication planning tools and templates out there in the internet. Why still take this course?, you might ask. Perhaps the most I took out from the course are the ‘feeder tools’, as our professor called them, that inputs into the one-pager communication plan, aptly called plan-on-a-page or POP. The heuristic tools and questions can guide communicators in identifying the desired mindset, audience, effective voice, messages, and moments.
How much is the course? It is offered by Georgetown University, where education is expected to be top-notch but on the expensive side. The fee for the one day class is $595. The price tag is typical here in the US, though. It is equivalent to two semesters when I was studying university in the Philippines, or about a semester when I did my grad studies in Germany. It is very much advisable to persuade your organization to pay for it especially when you plan to use it at work like what I did. This makes financial sense to an organization, too. If the communications plan is well done (and democratic!), there is no need to hire a consultant which could cost a lot of money.
I would recommend the course if you have never taken and professional communications planning course, and would like to pick up some tools and skills on the fly. I put together the draft POP for the community of practice I moderate in less than a day. Soon a colleague and I might work on our office’s communications plan, too.