Tuesday, January 26, 2010

from clients: 10 retreats

Communications goes outward, so why take the time to pause for a retreat about your communications? I'll let my clients' reasons for convening communications retreats serve as the source for this list, since they start the process, telling me what they hope to accomplish with my facilitation help. Some are training-focused, some seek to even out disparities in understanding and skill, others are more strategic and reflective. See if any of these sound familiar to you:
  1.  We've got a complex initiative with partners in many sectors, conflicting messages and goals that are dependent on our partners' cooperation. We all need to come to agreement on what we can accomplish in communications, and come out of it with a plan.
  2. Last year was a tough year for my team. We lost staff and had a number of personal and professional challenges. I want my communications team to refocus for the new year, and set objectives to make this year more productive, while taking time to acknowledge last year's challenges.
  3. The board decided on a message for our nonprofit organization, but the members balked, and now we're not sure how to proceed. We want to start over, and this time we need a message or options for a message that reflects what our members said.
  4. I think our new marketing VP has some sweeping changes in mind. I want to figure out how to get my communications team ready for that, and figure out a strategic way for us to anticipate the changes ahead. (In this case, we invited the marketing VP to talk to the team directly about the changes--a step that let them see the path forward long before it was announced.)
  5. I have a lot of staff members who work in media relations, and I'm not sure that all of them understand how to pitch ideas to reporters effectively. We have longstanding relationships with news media, and we need to be sure everyone's on the same page about our approach.
  6. Our communications and related units are all over the map when it comes to understanding and using social media. I'm embarrassed to say we don't all know enough to decide where to put our efforts--and the staff members who know the technology aren't always thinking strategically. Can we mix training and strategy to get everyone on a level playing field?
  7. My writing team needs a shot in the arm--I want them to focus, find ways to turn in written work that needs less editing by me, and get creative.
  8. I need to make the case to my board of directors for why we need funding to carry out some communications research and they're skeptical about how that would work and what the return would be. We need a retreat that will inform them and persuade them, while giving them plenty of time to share their questions and concerns.
  9. We need people from our core management team to come to a group understanding of how we'd handle communications in a disaster, emergency or major crisis
  10. Our budget's going to face major cuts in the coming fiscal year. We need to reprioritize what we're doing in communications so we can be strategic in facing that challenge--before someone tells us what to cut.
If you need one of these retreats--or can add to the list with a new one customized for your communications team, company or organization, email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz.

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