The Easy Guide to Creating an Effective Communications Plan

A communications plan is the key to developing an effective and consistent messaging strategy.

It helps guide the process of setting measurable goals for your strategy, profiling your target audience and creating and successfully delivering your message.

Whether your are creating a marketing communications plan or a strategic communications plan, the following steps will help guide you.  

What is a Communications Plan

A communications plan serves as a road map for delivering your message to your target audience in an effective way.   

Use this communications plan template to develop your strategy and deploy it.

Communications Plan Template
Communications Plan Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

Steps to Communications Planning

Perform a Situation Analysis

A situation analysis helps assess the capabilities of and health of things in an organization. It’s the ideal way to understand the current status of your organization’s communication.

You can gather as much information as needed from conducting an audit.

To gather relevant information from a situation analysis, you can consult departmental heads, process owners and other internal staff members.   

In a situation analysis, you need to examine both the internal and external environments. To do so, you can use the following tools

  • You can use a SWOT analysis to examine the strengths and weaknesses within your organization, and opportunities and threats that you can find in your external environment.
SWOT Analysis for Situation Analysis
SWOT Analysis for Situation Analysis (Click on the template to edit it online)
  • With a PEST analysis, you can examine political, environmental, social and technological factors, all of which exist in the external environment of your organization, but can have a significant impact on the way things run in your business.
PEST Analysis for Situation Analysis
PEST Analysis for Situation Analysis (Click on the template to edit it online)
  • One good competitor analysis technique is the perceptual map. It helps you make sense of how your customers perceive the brands of your competitors in the market compared to yours.
Perceptual Map for Situation Analysis
Perceptual Map for Situation Analysis (Click on the template to edit it online)

Identify and Define Objectives / Goals

Once you know where you stand, you can find your direction. The next step is to define your goals.

Think of what outcomes/results you want to achieve from your communications plan. These will become your goal/s as you develop your communications plan.

Make sure that the goals you select are:

SMART Goals Example
SMART Goals Example (Click on the template to edit it online)

Understand and Profile Your Key Audience

Who are you creating this communications plan for? Understanding your audience and their requirements, characteristics etc. is key to creating an effective message and delivering it successfully.

Your key audience could be within your organization or your customers. Either way, you should gather information on them and create simple audience personas.

These personas could include a variety of data that ranges from their age and gender to the challenges they face.

Audience Profile for Communications Plan
Audience Profile (Click on the template to edit online)

Refer to this when you are creating your message and selecting media channels.

Want to learn more user research methods?

Decide the Media Channels and Create a Strategy

As you conduct research on your target audience you would get to know that their requirements and preferences are diverse.

It’s clear that you won’t be able to reach all of them through one media channel or retain their attention with one type of content.

Consider the most effective channels you can think of when creating your media channel strategy. Make sure to select the ideal channel when you are targeting different audience segments.

Media Channel Strategy for Communications Plan
Media Channel Strategy (Click on the template to edit it online)

Create a Timetable for Publishing

When do you want your audience to hear your message and how often? Have a content calendar or create a Gantt chart outlining a timeframe for your publishing strategy.

Gantt Chart for Communications Plan
Gantt Chart for Communications Plan (Click on the template to edit it online)

You may also need to take the resources available to you into consideration. If you have one content writer, publishing quality blog posts on a daily basis would be ineffective.   

Monitor and Evaluate the Results

Constantly monitor and track your results in order to understand whether you are any closer to achieving your goals. If you have failed, proceed to mark it down so you can make necessary improvements next time.

Creating a communications plan for your non profit organization? Check out this resource for some great tips.

What’s Your Approach to Writing a Communications Plan

A successful communications plan will get your message delivered across to your audience effectively while ensuring that you are on track to accomplishing your business objectives.

Follow the simple steps above to create a winning communications plan. If you have any other tips, do share them with us in the comment section below.

Author

Amanda Athuraliya

Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.

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