Best practices for pharma internal project communications
The pharma and biotech industry is both extremely fluid and highly adaptable. New products launch as others lose exclusivity, companies merge and split, and regulatory changes and technology advancements continually alter the landscape. Significant changes are affecting every pharma company, every day. However, some changes are well received and touted as successes while others fail.
When a promising project fails to meet expectations, poor communication is often a contributing cause. Successful project leaders today must master the fundamentals of good communications practices to realize the best outcomes.
We advise our clients to incorporate the following communications best practices into overarching project strategies whenever possible:
Begin with the “why.” Why are you communicating internally in the first place, and what do you ultimately want individuals to do with the information you’re sharing? It’s vitally important for the project team to align on how your internal communications efforts are going to support the business before you even begin to formulate a plan.
Map your stakeholders. Build a chart of every internal team or individual to include in your communications efforts. For each stakeholder, determine a unique cadence, method, and message for the duration of your project.
Research. You need to understand the method that will most effectively reach each of your project stakeholders with your message. For some companies, email works best. Others have advanced to video. The traditional approach of in-person conversations often still works best (though it’s important to recognize that it’s not always feasible in large, geographically distributed organizations.)
Mix it up. There’s no silver bullet in communications, so a robust communications strategy will include multiple ways to reach your internal audiences. Take your research findings and select 5-8 different ways to communicate.
Be consistent with 7 message touchpoints. We encourage clients to follow the Rule of 7 when it comes to project communications, knowing that each and every message in a successful communications strategy will address the same seven touchpoints. These include clearly stating where you are today, where you’re heading, and how you’ll know when you’ve achieved success, with other vital touchpoints in between. Whether you’re communicating about launching a new product or overhauling the company’s outsourcing strategy, the essential message touchpoints are the same.
KISS (for our purposes: Keep It Short & Simple). Your communications should be concise, consistent, and easily understood by anyone who reads them. This is not the time to boil the ocean or show off your fancy vocabulary. Instead, think of telling your communications story in a 2-minute pitch suitable for Shark Tank and then go from there.
Listen. Just as people have two ears and one mouth, so should organizations. Meaning, we should spend twice as much time listening as we do talking. Communications is a two-way street. As much or more time should be spent listening and responding to internal questions and feedback as is allotted to disseminating your message.
Commit. Internal communications strategies are most effective when someone wakes up every day thinking about them. Appoint a project communications owner - either someone from your team, the company’s communications team, or a consultant – who is responsible for all message development and delivery. To ensure complete consistency, that person should have a seat at the table for all strategic project meetings, and be the conduit through which all project messages pass before being disseminated.
As vital as good communication is to project success, it rarely comes easy. But, with the right approach, consistent, concise, and clear communication can become a secret weapon for success. If your team needs help pulling together an upcoming project communications strategy, or someone to manage the day-to-day details, Archbow Consulting can help. Contact us today to get started.