A Year in Project Communication

SERIES ARTICLE

Communicating Projects – The Series

By Ann Pilkington

The PR Academy

United Kingdom


 During the past year I have been sharing thoughts and ideas about the role of communication in project management. It’s something that I feel really passionate about. We all know that statistic of how many change project fail and it is often said that it is in large part down to poor communication.

The end of 2016 seems like a good opportunity to look back over some of the key themes:

  • It is a myth to say that people don’t like change. If there is one thing that 2016 has taught us is that many people actively seek it! (I am of course referring to Brexit and the US elections.)  The idea that all change is bad and people are going to react negatively to it influences a lot of project communication. We go into it expecting trouble and trying to “sell” the change instead of concentrating on engaging stakeholders.  This was the topic of my July article “Brexit, Football and Project Communication” which you can read at https://pmworldjournal.net/article/brexit-football-and-project-communications/
  • Risk isn’t just about risk to the project.  Projects contain risk, we all learn on our project management courses, and the management of risk is something that project managers excel at. However, as a communicator coming into the project world, a big thing for me is that the identification of risk is often about risk to the project; there isn’t always enough attention paid to potential risks to the wider organisation’s reputation.  This is why it matters to have a communicator involved in risk identification, because he or she will have the reputation of the organisation in mind and may be sighted on issues elsewhere that could combine to make the perfect storm of a crisis.  This was the topic of my May article “Communicating in a Crisis” which you can read here: https://pmworldjournal.net/article/communicating-in-crisis/

More…

To read entire article, click here

 

Editor’s note: This series of articles on effective project communications is by Ann Pilkington, founding director of the PR Academy (UK) and author of the book Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013.  Ann is one of the UK’s leading experts on communications; she shares her knowledge with project managers and teams around the world in this series in the PM World Journal.


 

About the Author

140507-pilkington-photo
Ann Pilkington

United Kingdom

 

UK small flag 2

 



Ann Pilkington
is the author of Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013.  She is a founding director of the PR Academy which provides qualifications, training and consultancy in all aspects of communication including change project communication and project management.

Information about Ann’s book, Communicating Projects, An End-to-End Guide to Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Effective Communication, can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/isbn/9781409453192.

Ann can be contacted at [email protected]

Website: www.pracademy.co.uk

To see previous articles by Ann Pilkington, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/ann-pilkington/

 

 

Enterprise Social Networks

SERIES ARTICLE

Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) – they’re not just about collaboration

Communicating Projects – The Series

By Ann Pilkington

The PR Academy

United Kingdom

 


We recently conducted some research at PR Academy, led by my co-director Dr Kevin Ruck, to look at the challenges and benefits of using Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs). The following article provides an overview of the report’s findings.

According to Global Industry Analysts, the global market for Enterprise Social Networking is expanding at a rapid rate globally and is forecast to reach US$4.8 billion by 2020. The main objective for ESN deployment is enterprise-wide communication and collaboration. However, associated benefits – such as an improved ability to visualise consumer insights for enhanced decision making and for improving business strategies – are expected to build momentum for ESN solutions. On a more practical communication level, internal social media are forecast to supplant email as the dominant form of workplace communication within a decade. However, despite these predictions, current adoption still seems to be slow and patchy. For example, in research in the US, Cardon and Marshall found that traditional communication channels are used more frequently and are considered more effective for team communication. However, they also found that Gen X and Gen Y business professionals are quite likely to consider social networking tools as the primary means for team communication in the future.

CHALLENGES OF USING ESNS

Our research shows that the key challenges to the successful implementation of ESNs mainly relate to the culture of organisations and their readiness to embrace two-way communication. These challenges include encouraging employees to post comments on blogs (68%), getting managers to reply to comments (64%), and gaining buy-in from senior management (62%).

ESN MANAGEMENT SKILLS GAPS

ESN management skills gaps provide evidence of a further barrier to the successful implementation of ESNs. The top five skills gaps cited by respondents include measuring the impact of using ESNs (53%), engaging senior managers to use an ESN (45%), integrating an ESN with other internal communication channels (44%), technical knowledge (42%) and community management skills (36%).

More…

To read entire article, click here

Editor’s note: This series of articles on effective project communications is by Ann Pilkington, founding director of the PR Academy (UK) and author of the book Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013. Ann is one of the UK’s leading experts on communications; she shares her knowledge with project managers and teams around the world in this series in the PM World Journal.

 


 

About the Author

140507-pilkington-photo
Ann Pilkington

United Kingdom

flag-uk

 


Ann Pilkington
is the author of Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013. She is a founding director of the PR Academy which provides qualifications, training and consultancy in all aspects of communication including change project communication and project management.

Information about Ann’s book, Communicating Projects, An End-to-End Guide to Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Effective Communication, can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/isbn/9781409453192.

Ann can be contacted at [email protected]

To see previous articles by Ann Pilkington, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/ann-pilkington/

 

 

Risk: the role for communication

SERIES ARTICLE

Communicating Projects – The Series

By Ann Pilkington

The PR Academy

United Kingdom


PR and communication practitioners can derive huge benefits from adopting the principles of project management. One example of this is the area of risk.  Projects also benefit greatly from involving communication colleagues in the risk identification process.

From a project manager’s perspective, risk is often thought about in terms of risk to the project being able to deliver.  This means that reputational risks to the wider organisation can sometimes be missed.  This is where the PR/communication input is valuable.  PR as defined by the UK Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is all to do with reputation:

Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.  Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.

Damage to the wider organisation’s reputation can impact on project deliverables – suddenly there can be angry stakeholders to deal with and the project’s objectives can be questioned. Clearly these wider risks may not all sit on a project risk register and will need to be escalated, but flagging them up means that there should be no surprises for the wider organisation. It also helps the internal reputation of the project to be seen to be thinking at an organisational level.

Wider reputational risk can be spotted during a thorough PEST analysis and a good communication lead will want to start there, but it can be important to look more widely as a PEST may have been done very much with the impact on the project in mind – not the wider organisation.

More…

To read entire article, click here

 

Editor’s note: This series of articles on effective project communications is by Ann Pilkington, founding director of the PR Academy (UK) and author of the book Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013.  Ann is one of the UK’s leading experts on communications; she shares her knowledge with project managers and teams around the world in this series in the PM World Journal.

 


 

About the Author

Style: "Neutral"
Ann Pilkington

United Kingdom

UK small flag

 


Ann Pilkington
is the author of Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013.  She is a founding director of the PR Academy which provides qualifications, training and consultancy in all aspects of communication including change project communication and project management.

Information about Ann’s book, Communicating Projects, An End-to-End Guide to Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Effective Communication, can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/isbn/9781409453192.

Ann can be contacted at [email protected]

To see previous articles by Ann Pilkington, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/ann-pilkington/

 

Brexit, Football and Project Communications

SERIES ARTICLE

Communicating Projects – The Series

By Ann Pilkington

The PR Academy

United Kingdom


 Here in the UK Europe is dominating the news agenda and many peoples’ social media feeds.  First, a referendum resulted in a vote to leave the European Union and then England crashed out of the Euro 2016 football tournament in spectacular style. Northern Ireland are out too, but with their heads held high and as I write, Wales is still in.

There are lessons to be learned from both exits.

There were two official campaigns in the referendum – leave or remain.   The polls showed that it was always going to be close, but many people were still surprised when the leave camp won.

The usual adage is that people don’t like change. The first time there was a referendum on the EU back in the 1970s there was a bit of a to-do because the wording on the ballot paper was felt to be leading – it asked people if they wanted to “stay” in the European Community with just a yes or no answer. At that time 67% of people voted to stay. Well people certainly decided to embrace change this time around. So, what does that tell us about communicating change?

I have never really believed that people don’t like change. There are some changes that people don’t like of course but others can be very well received.  The idea that all change is bad and people are going to react negatively to it influences a lot of project communication. We go into it expecting trouble and trying to “sell” the change instead of concentrating on engaging stakeholders.  I wrote about this in April. Engagement means giving stakeholders a voice, but also ensuring that it is an “informed voice”. It is hard for stakeholders to make a contribution when they don’t really understand what they are being asked to comment on.

One of the biggest cries that we heard during the run up to the referendum was that people didn’t have enough information. Where were the facts? Of course, providing the facts isn’t always as easy as it sounds.  Neither side could really say for sure what would happen if their view prevailed.   Dealing with this level of ambiguity was difficult for many; they felt that they couldn’t make a decision about which way to vote.  Unfortunately ambiguity is a feature of many change projects in the early phases.  However, change projects have an advantage over the UK referendum in that they usually have a clear version of what things will look like post implementation. The ambiguity comes in being able to explain exactly how that will happen and when – this is hard in the early days. This is why, along with Lou Horton, I developed a new stakeholder model which maps stakeholders to different project stages and acknowledges the challenge of ambiguity.  (See below)

More…

To read entire article (click here)

 

Editor’s note: This series of articles on effective project communications is by Ann Pilkington, founding director of the PR Academy (UK) and author of the book Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013.  Ann is one of the UK’s leading experts on communications; she shares her knowledge with project managers and teams around the world in this series in the PM World Journal.

 


 

About the Author


Ann Pilkington

United Kingdom

flag-uk

 


Ann Pilkington
is the author of Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013.  She is a founding director of the PR Academy which provides qualifications, training and consultancy in all aspects of communication including change project communication and project management.

Information about Ann’s book, Communicating Projects, An End-to-End Guide to Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Effective Communication, can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/isbn/9781409453192.

Ann can be contacted at [email protected]

To see previous articles by Ann Pilkington, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/ann-pilkington/

 

What does good communication look like?

SERIES ARTICLE

Communicating Projects – The Series

By Ann Pilkington

The PR Academy

United Kingdom


One of the things that I often hear from fellow communicators is how everyone thinks that they can do communication. Of course we all communicate every day and sometimes more effectively than others. However, this doesn’t mean that everyone understands the best way to communicate within a project or organisation.

The George Bernard Shaw quote – “the biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished” is well worn now, but how many people really understand what that means and use that understanding to inform how they communicate?

What this saying should make us think is two things: what is the best way to communicate and how will I know if it has worked?

An exercise that I love to do with my communication students is to construct a model of communication. We start with the Shannon and Weaver 1946 model which is basic and linear and doesn’t really reflect the complexity of human communication. Perhaps this isn’t surprising given that these two guys were telephone engineers!

 

pmwj47-Jun2016-Pilkington-IMAGE1

 

 

 

 

 

 



Shannon and Weaver 1946 linear model of communication

When we do this exercise we add in factors such as:

  • The receiver’s perception of the sender
  • Culture, both national and local culture within the organisation
  • The “world view” of the receiver
  • The perception of the channel that the message is sent over.

There are lots of other things that influence the way that a communication is received and interpreted. I am sure that everyone will agree with this but it is surprising that despite this, a lot of project and organisation communication works on the basis that once a message has been sent, the assumption is that it has been received and interpreted as intended.

Let’s take each of these influences in turn:

The receiver’s perception of the sender: how credible is the person sending the message? This might be the project manager or perhaps the sponsor.   Perloff (2008 p222-4) argues that there are three factors that position someone as a credible communicator:

More…

To read entire article ,click here

 

Editor’s note: This series of articles on effective project communications is by Ann Pilkington, founding director of the PR Academy (UK) and author of the book Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013. Ann is one of the UK’s leading experts on communications; she shares her knowledge with project managers and teams around the world in this series in the PM World Journal.

 



About the Author

Style: "Neutral"
Ann Pilkington

United Kingdom

 

flag-uk

 


Ann Pilkington
is the author of Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013. She is a founding director of the PR Academy which provides qualifications, training and consultancy in all aspects of communication including change project communication and project management.

Information about Ann’s book, Communicating Projects, An End-to-End Guide to Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Effective Communication, published by Gower in 2013, can be found at https://www.routledge.com/Communicating-Projects-An-End-to-End-Guide-to-Planning-Implementing-and/Pilkington/p/book/9781409453192

Ann can be contacted at [email protected]

To see previous articles by Ann Pilkington, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/ann-pilkington/

 

Communicating in Crisis

SERIES ARTICLE

Communicating Projects – The Series

By Ann Pilkington

The PR Academy

United Kingdom

 


Getting communication right in a crisis matters.

History is littered with examples of never-recovered share prices and products.

Andrew Griffin in his book on crisis management quotes a senior executive at Total, the French energy giant praised for its handling of a gas leak in 2012: “to take care of reputation, you have to take care of people …. first.” Organisations dealing with crises should view at all times what is happening through the lens of the victims.

Chris Tucker who delivers courses in crisis communication management blogged some time ago about how in a crisis, it’s important to work with, and learn to love, the lawyers:

“In a crisis the obvious instinct of a lawyer is to minimise the chance of any prosecution and any future compensation claims. That usually means telling the organisation to minimise any public statements. So there is an obvious clash with the classic PR crisis management principle of tell it all, tell it fast and tell the truth. The standard legal advice is relatively short-term when compared to the longer term view of reputation management taken by the PR professional.

“Make having a good relationship with the legal department a top priority before the crisis hits.”

Projects contain risk, we all learn on our project management courses, and the management of risk is something that project managers excel at. However, as a communicator coming into the project world, a big thing for me is that the identification of risk is often about risk to the project; there isn’t always enough attention paid to potential risks to the wider organisation’s reputation.

This is why it matters to have a communicator involved in risk identification, because he or she will have the reputation of the organisation in mind and may be sighted on issues elsewhere that could combine to make the perfect storm of a crisis.

More…

To read entire article (click here)

Editor’s note: This series of articles on effective project communications is by Ann Pilkington, founding director of the PR Academy (UK) and author of the book Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013. Ann is one of the UK’s leading experts on communications; she shares her knowledge with project managers and teams around the world in this series in the PM World Journal.

 




About the Author

Style: "Neutral"
Ann Pilkington

United Kingdom

 

UK small flag 2

 


Ann Pilkington
is the author of Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013. She is a founding director of the PR Academy which provides qualifications, training and consultancy in all aspects of communication including change project communication and project management.

Information about Ann’s book, Communicating Projects, An End-to-End Guide to Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Effective Communication, can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/isbn/9781409453192.

Ann can be contacted at [email protected]

To see previous articles by Ann Pilkington, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/ann-pilkington/

 

Getting the most from your project communicator

SERIES ARTICLE

Communicating Projects – The Series
Article 3

By Ann Pilkington

The PR Academy

United Kingdom


As a project manager your role isn’t to do everything yourself (although maybe it sometimes seems that way!) but to ensure that you have the right specialists to help the project hit its milestones and achieve its benefits.

On larger projects you may have the benefit of full time communication lead, or you may have someone from a corporate communication team supporting you as and when needed. There is no best approach. A full time resource can really get to know the project, be an active member of the project team. But the support from corporate or organisation communication can bring with it the benefit of an overview across numerous projects resulting in synergies and less chance of communication clashes. Either way, how do you get the best from your communication lead? Here are some pointers:

Get communication involved from the very start – if possible before the project is even formed. It is a tremendous help for the communicator to understand the thinking and it can be hard to make this up later. Communicators can also help to shape the project as they often bring an understanding of what is happening in the external environment and what is on stakeholder agendas.

Ask your communicator to come up with the solution. One thing that really bugs the communicator is being brought a solution rather than the problem. Communication is most effective when the solution is designed once the problem is understood fully. Sometimes the answer may not even be a communication intervention.   Good communicators have a range of tools in their toolkit and should be able to select the most appropriate. So, seek their advice and counsel and don’t be surprised if they ask “why?” a lot!

Good communication should be measureable – it isn’t a mysterious “soft skill”. It should be based around objectives that the project helps to shape and signs up to. As a project manager, take time to discuss and agree the communication strategy objectives. Ensure that they are relevant, measurable and – most important of all – focussed on outcomes not outputs. Having an objective to deliver a number of events or quantity of briefings is useful, but you need to know that they have achieved the outcome you need to help your project succeed. Leading on from objectives and measurement, there needs to be a forum for your communication lead to give visibility to the strategy and what is being achieved so ensure that the communication function is represented at your project board. Please avoid making communication the last item on the agenda, it happens a lot and then everyone wants to rush through it because they are heading for a train or lunch!

As well as having communication as a standalone item, integrate communication into your project board agenda. For every item ask “what are the implications for communication?” It may well be that there isn’t a communication need and that’s fine, but it is important to ask the question.

More…

To read entire article, click here

Editor’s note: This series of articles on effective project communications is by Ann Pilkington, founding director of the PR Academy (UK) and author of the book Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013. Ann is one of the UK’s leading experts on communications; she shares her knowledge with project managers and teams around the world in this series in the PM World Journal.

 


 

About the Author


Style: "Neutral"Ann Pilkington

PR Academy
United Kingdom

flag-uk

 



Pilkington
is the author of Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013. She is a founding director of the PR Academy which provides qualifications, training and consultancy in all aspects of communication including change project communication and project management.

Information about Ann’s book, Communicating Projects, An End-to-End Guide to Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Effective Communication, can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/isbn/9781409453192.

Ann can be contacted at [email protected]

To see previous articles by Ann Pilkington, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/ann-pilkington/

 

 

Why it’s time to ditch “what’s in it for me”


SERIES ARTICLE

Communicating Projects – The Series
Article 2

By Ann Pilkington

The PR Academy

United Kingdom

 


I hear it all the time when discussing change communication. “You have to answer the ‘what’s in it for me’ question,” people say.

The problem with that question is that it implies that there is something in for the stakeholder and let’s be honest, sometimes there just isn’t.

This focus on positivity can also be a blocker for those managing stakeholder engagement. It was brought home to me when I was working with a team in a Government organisation that was about to go through a period of change. The conversation with the leadership team around the communication approach was halted when one of them stated that they “couldn’t possibly sell this to their team”. It made me realise that this is what managers and leaders in the organisation thought they had to do – make everyone feel positive about what was going to happen.

Ultimately of course, we would want stakeholder to feel positive but this isn’t a mood that can be created simply by trying to “sell” a message.

Thinking positively about a change and the organisation that is delivering it is more likely to come about through the following:

  • Accurate information
  • Timely information
  • Genuine two-way dialogue.

So, let’s think about each of those in turn.

Accuracy

Accurate information sounds easy but in times of change can be hard to achieve. It isn’t that people don’t want to tell the truth, but that truth can change. Complex programmes and projects will shift in terms of scope and timing. The challenge for the communicator is keep up with the changes and make sure that those who need to know are kept informed. If you are a project manager, check that you have your communication lead in the change request process so that he or she has early site of changes and can comment from a communication perspective. Importantly, it also means that the communication message and activity can be prepared.

A failure to do this can result in suspicion and cynicism among stakeholders. I like the “Say Do” matrix and use it a lot to help projects understand why communication matters and particularly why it is important to keep people up to date when things change.

More…

To read entire article (click here)

Editor’s note: This series of articles on effective project communications is by Ann Pilkington, founding director of the PR Academy (UK) and author of the book Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013. Ann is one of the UK’s leading experts on communications; she shares her knowledge with project managers and teams around the world in this series in the PM World Journal.

 


 

 About the Author

Style: "Neutral"
Ann Pilkington

United Kingdom

flag-uk

 


Ann Pilkington
is the author of Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013. She is a founding director of the PR Academy which provides qualifications, training and consultancy in all aspects of communication including change project communication and project management.

Information about Ann’s book, Communicating Projects, An End-to-End Guide to Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Effective Communication, can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/isbn/9781409453192.

Ann can be contacted at [email protected]

To see previous articles by Ann Pilkington, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/ann-pilkington/

 

 

Series Introduction

SERIES ARTICLE

Communicating Projects – The Series
Article 1

By Ann Pilkington

The PR Academy

United Kingdom


Nobody would argue that good communication is essential for project success, but what does good communication look like?

During the coming months I aim to challenge a few common perceptions about communication, explain why communication on projects is different and set out what good communication looks like.

One of the things that really frustrates me is the notion that communication is a “soft skill”. It’s one of the perceptions that I am going to be challenging. Good communication is grounded in research, sets outcome objectives and provides evidence of its success – that’s actually quite hard!

I’m a communicator, not a project manager, but I have tremendous respect and enthusiasm (yes really!) for the project management discipline. It’s why I put pen to paper, so to speak, to write a book on topic – Communicating Projects – published by Gower.

Those of us in the world of PR and communication can benefit hugely from an understanding of project methodology and I hope to show how project managers can benefit and learn from commissioning good communication. But commissioning it requires an understanding of it and that is what we are going to be developing during the months ahead.

So, what will I be covering?

I want to start by thinking differently about communication. Projects by their very nature are about change and that calls for a particular approach to communication. Rather than “selling” the change and endeavouring to get every stakeholder being positive, let’s think about how we engage people in a genuine two way dialogue. It isn’t enough to just sell the benefits. People may rationally agree with the benefits case but if they have underlying worries – for example, security of their data in an IT change, whether or not that fear is justified, they still won’t be convinced.

More…

To read entire article (click here)

Editor’s note: This series of articles on effective project communications is by Ann Pilkington, founding director of the PR Academy (UK) and author of the book Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013. Ann is one of the UK’s leading experts on communications; she shares her knowledge with project managers and teams around the world in this series in the PM World Journal.

 


 

 About the Author

Style: "Neutral"

Ann Pilkington

United Kingdom

flag-uk

 


Ann Pilkington
is the author of Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013. She is a founding director of the PR Academy which provides qualifications, training and consultancy in all aspects of communication including change project communication and project management.

Information about Ann’s book, Communicating Projects, An End-to-End Guide to Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Effective Communication, can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/isbn/9781409453192.

Ann can be contacted at [email protected]

To see previous articles by Ann Pilkington, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/ann-pilkington/