Caveo Learning

Corporate Strategy and Learning Center

L&D Efforts Unappreciated? Improve Your Learning Communications Plan

Posted by Joelyne Marshall on March 19, 2015

communictationsplanWhy is a learning communications plan necessary? If you've been in learning and development long enough, chances are good that at some point you've felt underappreciated by the larger organization. Perhaps stakeholders didn't understand the business value of learning initiatives. Maybe a set of custom training deliverables was underused, possibly because few people knew they existed. Maybe the C-suite just simply forgot about that long-term training project.

A well-conceived and tightly executed  communications plan can solve those issues. Continual and consistent communication messaging helps build visibility, coherence, and credibility for all learning activities taking place throughout the organization.

A learning communications plan should be executed from the beginning through the end of a given learning & development process. It can be highly intricate and detailed with how it touches various audiences, or it can serve as a general outline. The plan should spell out stakeholder engagement strategies, including how and when to talk to audiences about what the learning department is working on and why it applies to them.

Suggested Messaging

Certainly, the messaging of an L&D communications plan will vary based on the specifics of a given situation, but here are four common types of communications to consider. Before embarking on any of this messaging, take some time for an audience analysis in order to target the right messages to the right people.

Internal L&D Newsletter

This messaging offers internal L&D team members an opportunity to share news and information about the various training solutions in the pipeline. Likewise, this allows learning leaders a chance to hear from others in different groups about best practices, challenges, and activities being executed. The internal L&D newsletter can also be shared with senior leaders for exposure of the learning department’s activities.

'What We're Doing…'

This messaging is comprised of small nuggets of communication, focused on the most recent news of what the learning function is doing, why you're doing it, and the benefits of those learning initiatives. This messaging should be planned in advance, drafted, and delivered in regular intervals. A recommended interval is quarterly. This messaging is delivered to external audiences within the larger organization. Along with email delivery, this messaging is ideal for town hall meetings.

'Why You Should Care'

This messaging provides key information about current training programs being developed. Consistent and continual messaging about developing programs is critical to building visibility and credibility for the learning organization. This messaging can include snippets of information related to the progress and status of projects, along with critical changes that may be applicable to particular audiences. Of course, benefits of a learning project's development should always be shared. This messaging should be delivered to the external audiences within the larger organization.

'Coming Soon… Program Launch'

Program launch messaging provides audiences a projected launch date to help set expectations for delivery and access. This messaging should include information about the training program that answers Who, What, Where, When, and Why. Again, consistent messaging is important to reinforce the value of learning & development. This messaging should be delivered to external audiences within the larger organization.

Watch the On-Demand Webinar: VILT: Tips and Tactics for Taking Your Training  Virtual

Audience Types

Communications should be customized to specific audiences, and there are four main audiences that need to be addressed by any learning communications plan: internal team members, external business partners, the learners themselves, and external customers.

Internal Team Members

Disseminate consistent messaging regarding the activities executed by different L&D roles, providing awareness across the organization. Communications should cross-pollinate between role groups—instructional designers, learning managers, training facilitators, and training specialists/coordinators, to name a few—across the entire learning organization. This helps eliminate challenges when groups work within a siloed structure.

Internal team member communications can include:

  • Training project status and updates
  • Best practices and successes
  • Team member spotlight

External Business Partners

Communicating with external business partners helps build visibility and credibility for L&D contributions, especially routine activities that take place on a regular basis and may otherwise be underappreciated. Support for L&D initiatives will grow as business partners have more awareness for the programs that support their departments.

External business partner audiences include the collective organization or individual departments within the organization, managers, or customer service agents. Communications to this audience may include:

  • Project status and updates
  • General education on L&D processes
  • Team member spotlight
  • The WIIFM ("What's In It For Me?") for this audience

Learners

This would seem to be an obvious audience, but it can be surprisingly easy to overlook the learners themselves when crafting a learning communications plan. The main goal when communicating to this audience is to build engagement and visibility for all various training resources available or required. Communications may include:

  • Project status and updates
  • General education on L&D processes
  • Team member spotlight
  • The WIIFM for this audience

External Customers

Not all organizations and situations will have external customers to communicate about training initiatives, but it's important to take stock of this audience's needs. Informing external stakeholders about ongoing L&D projects, even in very general terms, can reinforce overall brand messaging and speaks to the organization's commitment to excellence. That said, it is very important that this area of messaging is in alignment with the overall branding and organizational messaging, so it is wise to consult with the marketing team in crafting these communications.

Make the Case for Learning's Relevance

Watch the On-Demand Webinar: VILT: Tips and Tactics for Taking Your Training

So why is a learning communications plan necessary? As learning professionals, we need to talk about what we're doing if we want to be included and respected by the larger organization and the key decision makers. The more we educate our business partners and customers about the important role of L&D, the more they will include us in key business decisions, the more stakeholders will be engaged with learning solutions, and the more enthusiasm will exist within the organization for learning generally.

Learn a five-step plan for building an L&D brand strategy, and then watch Caveo's free on-demand webinar, "Building an L&D Brand People Can Believe In."

Topics: Learning Strategy

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