I can’t be the only one to have noticed that this is a question that comes up a lot, in communications – and I’m torn on the right answer.
Should I feel bad that I’ve made everyone think I’m too busy to do my job and advise them, or should I feel bad that I haven’t provided them with a template already?
I see the my role, and that of all in house communications ‘people’, as being an advisor – but, of course, many of our colleagues in other departments see only the tweets, the website updates and comments in the media when something goes particularly well or badly.
So from that perspective it stands to reason that when someone wants a communications plan, or a press release or whatever else, they should be able to pick up a template and write it.
And yes, they should – and it’s part of our role to make sure that the templates we do have are put together in such a way that they also can, but we also, surely, have a role in arguing that good communications isn’t ‘template’ communications.
It’s not only that every problem is unique, but also a matter of perspective in a profession which is highly context-dependent.
Would a template with the headings ‘Objectives,’ ‘Strategy’ and ‘Tactics’ and ‘Outcomes’ really be all that much use anyway?
A communications plan written from a single perspective, whether from a template or not, will never be quite as good as one written with input from someone whose job it is to know about things happening across the organisation, knowing the political context and – probably – having ‘been here before’.
The value of a communications professional should not be tied up in producing templates for colleagues, but instead in helping our colleagues – with real problems, needing high quality and effective communications strategies – solve their problems.
Or at least that’s why I go to work each day, anyway. Tweet me @picnarkes and tell me whether you agree – and how you address the ‘Do you have a comms plan template?’ question.