The project manager is responsible for timely and appropriate generation, collection, distribution, storage, retrieval, and ultimate disposition of project information. This includes communications with participants, staff, Division of Healthy Start and Perinatal Services project officers and leadership, and community partners and stakeholders. Effective communications establish a common agenda and expectations among participants, staff, partners, and stakeholders to achieve collective impact. Responsibilities in this area also include contributing to Healthy Start’s broader communications goal of promoting Healthy Start expertise and achievements with national partners and stakeholders.
Healthy Start Specifics
A communications plan is essential to planning, developing, and evaluating your communications strategy. The plan helps you determine and respond to the information and communications needs of your stakeholders. Before starting a new communications activity, your project staff should discuss the following questions:
- Who are we trying to reach?
- What information does our audience want and need?
- What is our audience’s use of and comfort level with various communication tools?
- What do we want to accomplish with this particular audience?
- Is someone else already doing this? What partnerships do we need to engage to learn more about this audience and plan a response?
- What resources (e.g., funding, time, capacity, human resources, etc.) do we have to implement and maintain this strategy?
- What tools are most appropriate for this target audience, objectives, and strategy?
- What would success look like? How can it be measured?
As defined in the FOA, there are several audiences that are important to communicate with. Programs should use varied communication modalities and technologies to provide stakeholders with full and timely access to information. The communications plan should address the communication goals for key stakeholder groups, including:
- Participants: Information for recruitment and retention purpose, health education and care coordination communications.
- Staff: Understanding of the goals and objectives of the Healthy Start program, roles and responsibilities, and performance expectations.
- DHSPS Project Officers and Leadership: Regular status reports, reporting requirements as detailed in the Notice of Award, and timely response to requests for information.
- Community partners and stakeholders: Communications to build a common agenda and support interagency collaboration and coordination. Includes coordination and alignment with State Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant programs to promote cooperation, integration, and dissemination of information with statewide systems and with other community services funded under Title V.
- Effective Communication Tools for Healthcare Professionals: This free online training aims to improve patient-provider communication, and covers cultural competence, linguistic competence, and health literacy.
- Stakeholder Register: A project management document, which contains information about all project stakeholders.
- Power/Interest Grid: Tool to help identify and document the support or potential impact each stakeholder can generate, and how they fit into the larger strategy.
- Stakeholder Analysis Matrix: Template to document stakeholder management strategies with the goal of increasing support and minimizing negative impacts.
- Developing a Communications Plan: Step-by-step guide to the who, what, where, when and how of a communication plan.
- Communications Plan Template: Downloadable MS Excel template to document your communication plan in at-a-glance view.
- The Health Communicator’s Social Media Toolkit: Tools designed by CDC that will help you get started using social media—from developing governance to determining which channels best meet your communication objectives to creating a social media strategy.