Communications, Freelance, Wellington, New Zealand
WHY HAVE THEM?
Communication plans are common in big projects and large organisations but they can be incredibly useful for small projects and businesses too. Many organisations will have a global communications strategy, from which other more specific (e.g media, internal) communication plans flow.
So why have them? Well for a start, getting to the point where you actually have a plan, means that you’ve probably answered some pretty important questions along the way. Questions such as:
- ‘What do we really want to achieve and why?
- ‘How will we know if we are doing it right?’
- ‘How will communications help us achieve our business goals?’ (and often force the question, ‘what is our business goal?’)
Secondly, once you have a plan, (if it’s done well), anyone, anywhere in the organisation should be able to pick it up and follow it. This means that ‘doing comms’ can be democratic. The power is with the people, not reliant upon the communications team.
WHAT’S IN THEM?
The main content in a communications plan is:
- Who are our key audiences?
- What do we want to say to each of them (and why)?
- What is the best way to communicate with them (given our budget/resources/time)?
- Who will be responsible for doing what task and by when?
- How will we know if our message got through?
That’s it. Easy. I want everyone to be able to write their own comms plans, so don’t believe it if someone tells you you can’t write your own – have a go!
WHERE CAN I FIND ONE?
To reward you for reading this far, and as proof of my enthusiasm, I’ve attached a template for you at the bottom of this page.
There are plenty of free templates out there, (just Google ‘free communication plan template’) but in my opinion they still over-complicate things. Whilst there’s all kinds of different formats for different communication needs, e.g a small internal announcement requires something a bit different than a global media crisis – it can be distilled into a communications matrix – a one page document that sums up answers to the bullet points above.
Whatever size your organisation, challenge, issue, budget or communication knowledge, if you can complete this one page template, you’re off to a great start. Most communication plans will include Background, Risks, Context, Measurement, Budget, Stakeholder sections, which is fine, but they can be added in later. The aim of this template is to get what’s already in your head, down on paper in a usable and concise way.
A good test once you’ve completed this, it is to give it to someone unrelated to the topic or organisation and get them to read it. They should be able to understand everything on it and summarise answers to the above bullet points back to you when you ask them. Good luck!