Communications Plan – Your New Best Friend
The simple and easy to use communications plan is my absolute favorite tool and has saved my skin more than once. Especially when I’m juggling multiple projects with different deadlines. It is the number one way to get organized, and keep others accountable and on track.
If you don’t know what a communications plan is, or you aren’t using them regularly, don’t worry. I have a FREE downloadable template for you to use. Simply sign up to receive free advice from me at How to Communications and I’ll send you the code to get this template for free.
This simple template will make your life easier – by saving you time and frustration and, most importantly, keeping you organized!!
So what is a communications plan? It is the summary of the communications elements of a project. Sometimes the project is communications focused (ex. press conference, annual report). Other times, the communications component is part of a bigger project (ex. product launch, community event, walk-a-thon).
Either way, you are likely working with a number of people, from different parts of your organization or stakeholder groups. And this is where a communications plan will save you from pulling your hair out in despair.
A communications plan is a short document (usually 1-3 pages) that outlines some key areas of your project. These include the overall project goal, measurable objectives, key messages, and target audiences. It also captures the various pieces or steps of your communications (ex. press release, posters, social media).
Now here’s the best part – a communications plan identifies who is doing what, when, and any related deadlines. Ideally this includes some bullet points breaking down the task versus a general statement of write a press release. The bullets could be:
- Get quote from spokesperson
- Include key messages
- Get approvals from XX and XX
- Confirm availability of spokesperson on release date
Writing the press release and issuing the press release would be separate entries in the communications plan as they would happen at different times (obviously the press release would have to be written and approved in advance of releasing it to the media). In the “issuing the press release” entry in the plan, you could also include – post on company website and email to employees and/or stakeholders.
The idea is to capture ALL the steps related to sending out a press release, versus just writing – issue press release – on the communications plan.
Now here is the beauty of the communications plan. You will share this plan with your project team BEFORE you start working on the elements included in the plan. This means having everyone review the plan, make any changes as a team and agree to complete items assigned to them by the date.
Once this is done you have a simple document that provides an overview of the communications components of the project and who is doing what, by when. This will keep everyone accountable – including you.
So as you are juggling all the different balls you have in the air, you can refer back to your communications plan as a reminder of what the heck you are supposed to be doing.
Whether you are a professional communicator or are doing communications off the side of your desk, save yourself a lot of time and frustration by creating a communications plan for each project – no matter how big or small.
My challenge to you – stop and think about all the projects you are juggling. Now pick one project, download the free communications plan template and take 30 minutes to fill it out. If you don’t know all of the elements, don’t worry. Just fill out the plan and see what information you have, then set aside time to figure out the gaps. If this is a team project, bring this plan to your next team meeting, present the plan, and ask for the team’s input and agreement. Use this plan for the remainder of the project, then sit back and assess how it has helped the project flow versus projects where there is no communications plan.
Trust me, this will soon become your favorite tool too!