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Communications Plans: What are they?

Communications Plans: What are they?

Communications Plans: What are they?

In simple terms, communications plans are strategic documents that describe your chosen strategy for communicating to your audience. They can be limited in scope to one specific initiative, or they can be a general roadmap for communicating to a broad audience under a variety of circumstances.

Communications plans are goal-oriented

Good communications plans are goal-oriented. That is, they are focused clearly on helping you achieve your communications goals. To build a good plan, start by identifying your communications goals. You’ll also need to identify available resources, your audience, specific strategies and evaluation methodologies.

If you’re tasked with developing a communications plan for a new product launch, your communications goal may be something like, “All sales staff will understand the benefits of our new widget, and be able to communicate those to potential new customers.” Your communications plan must be focused on educating your sales staff about the new product.

Once you know what your goal is, the next step is to identify resources available to accomplish the goal. You may have a number of options for educating sales staff, from conducting workshops or webinars to providing written materials, sales brochures, websites, manuals and other resources. Resources can also be people, whether they’re inside or outside of your organization. Knowing who needs to be involved and what they need to do can help you identify timetables.

Communications plans typically identify the intended audiences. In our example, the obvious audience would be the sales staff, but you might also include supervisory personnel, customer service personnel, distributors or other people involved in the sales cycle of your product.

A communication plan identifies the specific strategies you will use to achieve your goals. In this case, your communications plan may involve webinars, written materials and online resources. It’s not enough to identify the specific tools you plan to use. You also need to identify the delivery timetable, all of the dependencies you need to address in order to meet your timetable, and the resources your sales staff will need to meet your goal.

Finally, communications plans typically include a self-evaluation. How did the strategies work? Was the sales staff sufficiently educated about the benefits of the new product? Can they transmit this information to potential new customers? What parts of the strategy worked? Which elements didn’t work? Were there issues that arose that your communications plans didn’t consider?

In this example, the communications plan focused on a specific objective, but communications plans can be focused more broadly. In my next post, I’ll discuss these kinds of communications plans and what’s involved in creating them. If you’d like more information about creating communications plans for your organization, please contact me at eileen@juliesocean.com or call me at (734) 961-0408.

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