In the corporate world, effective communication is how you deal with potential risks and problems. It is also how you ensure that projects are done on time, employees are motivated, and stakeholders are satisfied. Generally, communication is essential to the running of a business, which is why every project management strategy needs a communication plan. Let’s take a closer look at what a communication plan is and how you can use a Communication Plan Template to ensure the success of your projects.
What Is a Communication Plan?
A communication plan is a formal outline of how a company plans to communicate important information, such as details of an ongoing project, to key stakeholders. It usually identifies the audience, describes the information to be communicated, and prescribes the method of communication that will be used. Additionally, it identifies all the parties involved in the communication.
What Is a Communication Plan Template?
A communication plan template is a customizable roadmap that you can use to plan how you will disseminate project information to an audience.
Communication Plan Templates & Examples
Essential Elements of a Communication Plan
An effective communication plan is very extensive and contains information sourced from different places. Before preparing it, you need to revisit your company mission statement, run a communication audit, get input from members, leaders, and staff, and conduct focus groups, among other things.
The communication audit is designed to assess the company’s current communication processes. It should tell you how staff members communicate and how effective the methods are. Once you have all the preliminary information you need, you can fill in the following elements:
This is where you establish what you would like to achieve through your communication plan. Generally, this section will vary from one company or project to the next. Commonly cited objectives include:
- Increasing customer loyalty
- Providing quality service
- Enhancing teamwork among employees
- Centralizing communication efforts.
Next, you must define your audience, that is, the people for whom your message is designed. Common choices include:
- Clients and consumers
- Members and nonmembers,
- Related industries and associations
- Federal, regional, and local governments
3. Other Elements
You must also describe the programs or services you will use to reach your objectives and create a timeline that outlines your project milestones.
Lastly, you must include a method you will use to evaluate your results. This could be:
- A monthly or annual report
- Department reports being presented during meetings
- Intermittent chief staff and department head briefings
How to Write a Communication Plan (Step-by-Step)
As mentioned, a communication plan is an extensive document and usually requires a lot of preliminary preparation and information gathering. If you are tasked with creating this document, start early and follow this step-by-step writing guide:
Step 1: Run a Communication Analysis
Start by running a communication analysis to assess the current state of communication in your organization. You want to come out the other side with an in-depth understanding of what your current communication plan is capable of and how effective it is. Additionally, you want to determine how it responds to internal and external environments. For this, you can use these tools:
- PEST Analysis: Using PEST analysis, you can study the political, environmental, social, and technological elements in the external environment that could impact your business.
- SWOT Analysis: This analysis tests the strengths and weaknesses inside your organization as well as threats and opportunities in the external environment.
- Perceptual Map: This tool helps you assess how consumers perceive competitor brands in comparison to your company’s brand.
Step 2: Define Your Goals
Next, establish and define your objectives by determining what you want to achieve from your communication plan.
Step 3: Identify Your Key Audience
Define the people for whom you are creating your communication plan, i.e., your audience. Learn their characteristics, needs, concerns, priorities, etc. and create audience personas.
Step 4: Create a Strategy
Now, assess different media channels and determine which ones best deliver your message to your target audience. You can divide your audience into segments and assign a different channel for each.
Step 5: Set a Publishing Timeline
Create a calendar or Gantt chart that shows a timeline for your communication plan.
Step 6: Monitor the Results
Finally, launch your plan and monitor it constantly to gauge whether you are getting closer to accomplishing your objectives.
Types of Communication Plan Templates
You can create a Communication Plan Template for any scenario in your company. Depending on your needs, you can use one for the following:
- Management changes
- Communications management strategy
- Hazardous situations
- Internal communication
- Integrated marketing
Tips for Creating a Good Communication Plan Template
Think of a communication plan as a roadmap for sharing your message. If you wish to make this process as effective as possible, consider the following pointers:
- Understand your audience, their priorities, concerns, and problems, then tailor your plan to meet their needs.
- Remember that communication does not exist in a vacuum, so make sure your plan coincides with other company activities.
- Use a table with columns to organize your information.
- Set clear reasons for making the communication.
- Add some creativity to your approach.
- Don’t include information you cannot back up with facts.
- Don’t write an overly long statement.
- Be honest.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the first step in a communication plan?
The first step in creating a communication plan is establishing your objectives.
What makes a good communication plan?
A good communication plan identifies the specific objectives of the communication, the target audience, communication methods, and a list of involved team members.
What is a communication strategy?
A communication strategy is a plan for communicating information about a specific event, issue, situation, etc. It describes the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’ in communication.
What is the difference between a communication strategy and a communication plan?
A communication strategy highlights how a company will share certain information with an audience, usually the public, while a communication plan is more internal. It usually covers information about projects, management, etc.
Using a Communication Plan Template is key to developing a consistent and effective communication strategy. It helps you create measurable objectives for your messaging strategy, understand your audience, and deliver your message successfully. Even better, it helps you achieve all this while keeping you in line with general company goals.