What is a Communications Plan?

When an organisation decides that it is going to undertake an activity in one of the areas of the organisation then it will supplement the activity with a plan to communicate what is going to happen with a communications plan.

The first step of a communications plan is to identify all of the people that may be affected by the activities going to be undertaken.  This includes both internal and external people and all of the people that it involves directly and indirectly.  For internal people this is the staff, contractors, shareholders, and management teams.  For external people this includes the customers, vendors, suppliers, etc.  Anyone that interacts with the product or service that is not involved directly in its creation or management.

External people to consider for the communications plan can involve quite a wide range of people with many different angles or levels of involvement.mindfulness word cloud  The customer can be directly affected by changes, the supplier may have changes to what is being supplied and external vendors may no longer be required if certain activities are no longer being conducted.

Other external people that may be involved can range from industry associations, consumer associations to government bodies and departments.  These external people may have specific legal or compliance requirements that they are looking to see are maintained if there are changes to your products or services.  And have expectations that if there are to be changes that they may also be involved or included in those changes.

Once the people to be communicated to have been identified the next step is to determine the activities to be communicated about.  A plan is made of what activities are to be communicated about and through which media (social media, TV, print, internet, radio, etc.) it will be communicated.  Now it is clear the who (people) and the what/when (the plan), the final part is to clarify what messages are going to be communicated and which messages will be given to which people.

The messages to be communicated form the most critical part of the communications plan as they are tailored for each of the groups of people that they are communicated to.  For example, the shareholders would expect to hear messages about how the activities will affect the share price, whilst the vendors will be interested in messages that discuss any changes to operations and if it will affect them.  The overriding theme of the activities will be communicated in the messages the same for all people, but the ‘what’s in it for me’ part, is where the messages will be more tailored.