For many small and medium projects, status reports and
status meetings may be all that is required for formal communication. However,
on a large project, all communication should take place within the context of
an overall Communications Plan.

When you build a Communication Plan, you need to determine
who your stakeholders are and then determine what information they need to

The most interesting part of the Communications Plan
involves marketing communication that is targeted toward people that you want
to influence. Typically, marketing communication is used to build excitement
and interest in your project. The rationale for marketing communication is that
it is much easier to implement a solution when the people that are impacted are
excited, rather than when they are confused, frightened, or ambivalent. If the
project is controversial, requires culture change or is political, the positive
aspects of marketing communication become more and more critical.

Tips in your inbox

Looking for expert IT project management? Get the help you need from TechRepublic’s free Project Management newsletter, delivered each Wednesday.

Automatically sign up today!

Marketing communication is used to build enthusiasm. Here
are some examples. You may have been on a project that utilized these
techniques and you know how effective they can be if done right.

  • Project
    newsletters. This should make sense. Have you ever seen a newsletter that
    contained bad news? Not usually. These are meant for marketing purposes so
    they always focus on positive news.
  • Traveling
    road shows to various locations and departments to explain the project and
  • Testimonials
    from others that describe how the project deliverables provided value.
    People like to hear successes from other “real” employees. It
    gives your project more credibility.
  • Contests
    with simple prizes to build excitement. The contests could even be about
    the project name. Yes, they are a little corny, but they can be very
    effective in building interest if they are done right.
  • Project
    acronyms and slogans to portray a positive image of the project. For
    example, it might be better to call your project a proactive name like “MarketForce” instead of the more mundane “Marketing
    Department Database Project.”
  • Project
    countdown-until-live date. If you have done other things right, people
    will be anticipating your live date — not dreading it.
  • Informal
    (but purposeful) walking around to initiate discussions about all the good
    things the project is accomplishing. 
  • Celebrations
    to bring visibility to the completion of major milestones. People like to
    celebrate as long as you don’t go overboard.
  • Project
    memorabilia with project name or image portrayed, such as pins, pencils,
    Frisbees, cups, T-shirts, etc.
  • Publicizing
    accomplishments. Make sure people know when you do good things.

These examples show that project communication can take many
shapes and forms. For large projects especially, the project team should be
creative in determining how, what, to whom, where,and how frequently the communication takes place.