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By Sophia Cheng
At the beginning of 2012, a request for a communications calendar was published in one of the popular internal communications LinkedIn groups. Prakash Katariya supplied his working document in response. Clearly it was what everyone was looking for at that moment as further requests came flooding in. And they still are. So far Katariya has shared it more than 350 times.
I chatted with Katariya to find out more information about the development of the tool.
SC. What exactly is the communications calendar?
PK: It’s a practical tool to plan and project communication-related needs of an organisation; the tool is spread across 5 pages of a Microsoft Excel worksheet ranging from the most probable starting points, working out parameters and setting the context all the way to a higher strategy level with a calendar view of all communication deliverables. The scope covers internal communication as well as some important aspects of external communication. Basically it’s a tool to plan around your communication needs.
SC. What is it designed to achieve?
PK: When I started in the communications profession about 7 years ago, I spent a lot of time trying to figure how my contribution affected the wider workings of the organisation. At that time I searched for various examples from peers around me. I soon realised that there is currently no consistency for measuring communication efforts readily available. One of the reasons could be due to the sheer variety of infrastructures and cultures between organisations. From early on in my career I wanted to document my activity to those not fully aware of the value of comms and those who may not know what goes on behind the scenes. Many think it’s just the end product that matters but as a communicator, we understand that there is a lot of work that goes into producing an end product - months of planning and execution.
The tool is built keeping in mind the challenges a communication manager must face in today’s dynamic working environment. I modeled the tool around four basic requirements:
1. What is the need to communicate?
2. How can we communicate?
3. Who is the target audience?
4. When is the best time to communicate?
To add further value we also try to capture the estimated cost vs. actuals with the intention to project cost savings as an added benefit to the organisation. Since starting, it has taken me about 3 years to get it to the stage where it is now.
SC. Who is your tool aimed at?
PK: It is aimed at communication professionals, those involved in strategy creation and the planning process. It’s useful to those who are involved in the planning process on a long-term basis and whoever has the responsibility to measure and report can use the tool. It was built keeping in mind management expectation to serve as a tracker to cover all the aspects involved in internal communications.
SC. How does it work?
PK: It’s a simple and practical tool that relies on inputs being entered manually and the output being projected in a manner that’s tracked and easy to understand. It starts with assessing the communication needs, identifying the channels we want to use and listing a tentative time frame for delivery. Once this is done, the tool can be used to create a snapshot view of the annual communication needs and serve as a tracker for the management to measure the goals versus the timelines and any other parameters that can be defined. It’s designed to be flexible as certain aspects of communications are specific to an industry or company.
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SC. What led you to create the tool in the first place? And then share it?
PK: What led me really is the challenge that all of us face as communicators when we are asked to measure our own or our team's contribution. Since we all share the challenge, I thought it apt to share the tool and invite input from fellow communicators. This collaboration allowed for thinking beyond my usual scope of work and test the validity of the tool. I honestly never thought it would be picked up in such a way on LinkedIn.
In India, internal communications as an industry is still is in its infancy; it’s not as well established as in the UK. Whilst I had been receiving feedback from local peers I wasn’t sure how applicable it was to a larger audience. It was 'Julie' who posed the original question on LinkedIn. And from there it snowballed. I received a phenomenal response, over 100 comments in the first couple of weeks alone.
Overall feedback has been very positive and encouraging. This biggest advantage was the confidence boost gained from the feedback in the LinkedIn group. The comments have allowed me to develop the tool even further and make improvements and add measurements. It has definitely helped me in my profession. More than 350 people have since requested the document.
SC. How else do you use LinkedIn?
PK: I am a member of more than 7 groups in LinkedIn and my level of interaction varies. I think LinkedIn offers a great opportunity to showcase your profile to a much larger audience. When it comes to the value of the contributing, the space is somewhat clouded. Sometimes it comes down to luck whether a blog post or opinion gains traction or not. It has its limitations.
About Prakash Katariya
Prakash Katariya has more than 9 years experience in large multi-national organisations in the IT industry, with seven of those in the corporate communication department of a global financial protection group.
He has graduated with a BA in Commerce from the University of Mumbai and is currently undertaking an MBA in Marketing.
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