Environmental Communications Planning


Date and Time:

Monday, May 22, 2017, 12:00pm to Friday, July 7, 2017, 12:00pm

Registration Deadline:

Tuesday, May 9, 2017, 11:59pm

Full course description link

This course is designed to give environmental professionals the necessary tools to write a successful and comprehensive Communications Plan. These plans can be used internally, to manage change or initiatives within an organization, or externally to communicate a message to stakeholders and/or the public.

Students will engage in the process of developing a full Communications Plan, including identifying stakeholders and appropriate media, crafting messages, and evaluating the success of the communications delivery. As part of the course portfolio, students will also craft two media pieces, an Op/Ed and a short article targeted to a specific stakeholder group. Students will receive individual and group feedback on their portfolio, with the goal of writing powerful, concise, and professional text.

This course is seven weeks in length and is taught in an entirely online, distance learning format, with both asynchronous and synchronous portions. No campus visits are required.  For Weeks 1-4, and Week 6, we will offer 1 time each week that you will interact with instructors and classmates via WebEx. In week 5, you will have the chance to meet individually with the Instructor to discuss your Plan. During the sixth week, you will present a brief overview of your Communications Plan to the group, and will submit your final work by the end of week 7.Note: WebEx days and times are determined by instructor and student availability. Student availability will be elicited by a poll several weeks before course start. 

Our work will center around Modules, collections of online and print material that guide each step of the planning process. The flow of the course follows:

Week One: 

Introduction to Communications Planning
We will introduce ourselves and begin to consider how this course will be applied to a specific project. Students are asked to design a communications plan for a current or future initiative, change, or campaign.

Week Two: 

Reaching out to the Public/Identifying Stakeholders
As we define our project’s focus, we will work on crafting a clear, concise, and compelling message and identify relevant stakeholders.

Week Three: 

Internal Communications/Targeted Stakeholders/Social Media
Communications materials often need to be targeted to specific stakeholders and social media is becoming an increasingly popular outlet. We’ll discuss the challenges of this targeting, along with internal communication routes.

Week Four: 

Measures of success/Adaptive Management
A crucial and challenging part of a Plan is the way success will be measured. We’ll delve into several ways of measuring success and how to integrate an Adaptive Management approach into your Plan.

Week Five:

Individual Meetings with Dr. Rebecca Vidra


Putting it all together: Communications Planning
We’ll finish the course by sharing our Communications Plan portfolio and discuss timelines for implementation and next steps. Week 7 we will not meet as a class but you will use to finalize your Plan.