Project management communication plan example
— May 11th, 2021
How do you create a successful communications plan? A sound communications plan is an effective tool for any communications manager.
The plan needs to cover multiple bases and will involve your whole communications team. A successful plan needs to be managed well throughout the phases, from initial assessment, right through to measurement. Here are our six steps for an effective communications plan.
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Assess your current communications strategy
Your first step in creating an effective communications plan is to take a look at your current plan. Assess your strategy to identify any gaps or communications methods that are working.
- Consult with your communications team – get their input on what they think you're doing well, and areas where you need to make improvements. Brainstorm new content ideas or new ways of doing things.
- Ask your audience – you can do this with some simple Pulse Surveys where you ask specific, targeted questions on your current communication plan.
- Look at how other departments in your organization communicate with their audience. Are they doing anything innovative or particularly successful?
Define your objectives
When you've gathered all your data it's time to put your plan into practice by defining your objectives – what do you want to achieve with your communication messages, what are your goals?
Use the SMART mnemonic to organize or better project manage your plan.
Let's break it down: you need specific goals and a defined plan; you need to be able to measure the effectiveness of your plan; you need to allocate specific tasks to relevant members of your team; the plan needs to be realistic both in terms of action and budget, and you need to monitor the success of the plan over a pre-defined time period.
Identify your target audience
You have your objectives laid out, you now need to identify who your audience is. The more you know about your audience, the more you can tailor your message and content to their requirements. You may need to segment your audience and have specific messages that are relevant to certain groups.
Poppulo has an intelligent email solution that allows you to effectively segment your audience, using different content, greetings, and subject lines, which allows you to better personalize your message and to drive up user response.
Select the best communications channels
Different communications channels will be more effective with different groups of people. We've written about communicating with front-line staff in the past, who are more likely to engage with mobile-based channels as they are seldom at a desk.
Use the information you have gathered in your assessment phase, combine that with your target audience data and you should be in a good place to decide on the best communications channels for your message.
Establish project timelines
You and your project team will now be loaded with pertinent information on which you can build a successful plan. The key to this is having realistic timelines – rushing at this stage isn't a good idea. You've done all the groundwork, now you need to set out your timeline.
- When are you going to kick start your communications plans
- What are the steps and when does each step need to be completed
- What will be the frequency of your communications (once you've made that decision, stick to it)
- When will you analyze the results
Review and analyze
We can never underestimate how important it is to analyze your communications. Poppulo’s analytics tools are a simple way to view all key data in one clear interface. Reviewing your communications plan will be an ongoing project – assess each communication you send out and identify its strengths and weaknesses.
If you're noticing poor response rates, make tweaks in your next communication and continue to assess. Over time, you will be able to narrow down the points for success and focus on those – these might be as simple as sending out communication on a specific day and time. But it is only through constant monitoring that you will be able to see if your efforts are making a difference.
What are the important elements of a project communication plan?
Source – This is the origin of the message and determines its intended audience and expected time delivery.
Message – The message lies in the heart of what is being communicated and the way in which it is delivered. This includes everything from the words selected to grammar, style, and tone used.
Channel – This involves methods of communication such as mobile apps, email, video meetings, etc. The style and tone of communication can differ depending on what channels are selected. A group chat may be informal and use emojis, whereas a professional email may opt for more formal language.
Receiver – The receiver of the message will analyze its intended meaning, including any underlying meaning. For example, a message that includes exclamation marks will be interpreted differently than the same message without one.
Feedback – Feedback gives insight into the clarity of the message. If a message does not receive a reply, it must be determined if this is because the message was not understood by the receiver.
Environment – The environment is the space in which the message is communicated to its audience, whether it is face-to-face in the office, or virtually. This environment also comprises a psychological element; people think differently in an online environment than they do in a crowded conference space.
Context – Context is a vital element of a project communication plan as it defines the tone and expectation of any particular communication. If these expectations do not align with how the message is being delivered, it can cause significant problems.
Interference – Interference is anything that occurs which alters or prevents the meaning of a message from being understood correctly. This can be anything from a person not paying attention in a meeting to someone not regularly checking their emails.
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How do you write a project communication plan?
Start with your project’s communication needs
When it comes to writing a project communication plan, you will first need to understand that every project is different and varies in size, nature, and intention. This must all be taken into consideration when it comes to deciding on the most appropriate types of communication for the project.
Define the purpose
Having a clear idea of your project's purpose can aid greatly in reducing the number of unnecessary emails and messages sent out to workers.
Deciding on what is important for employees to know and what is not, prevents them from getting distracted from the task at hand. Be conscious of all communication with employees and make sure that every update they are receiving has a clear purpose.
Choose a communication channel
It’s important to determine the best method of communication for your project. Is it the type of project that requires weekly face-to-face meetings, or would a project discussion board or group chat work best? Think about what would be the most effective method of keeping your specific team up to date and productive.
Set a timeline for communication
Deciding how often communication will take place throughout the project sets clear expectations from the start. In this way, participants will be prepared for any upcoming meetings or interactions ahead of time.
By understanding the outline for communication, those involved in the project can rest assured that they will be kept in the loop and that there is no need for them to request status updates in the meantime.
Identify the project owner and key stakeholders
The project manager is not always capable of handling communications by themselves and therefore some responsibilities must be delegated to others. Assigning this ownership will aid your plan in reaching its full potential by allowing each chosen individual to take ownership of a specific communication method.
Why is it important to have a communication plan?
- To clarify your goals and objectives
- To identify and implement a range of communications activities
- To clarify specific roles in the process
- To build relationships among your team
- To ensure the alignment of staff members and stakeholders
- To include relevant input in the communications process
- To gauge your plan’s success and areas of weaknesses
The main goal of a project management communication plan is to determine the methods through which important information and messages are delivered throughout the project. This includes deciding who will receive the communication, when they’ll receive it, and how often they should expect to receive new information.
The importance of having a project management communication plan in place lies in the fact that poor communication can lead to project failure, and as a result, lead to a big financial hit for businesses.
On the other hand, organizations that take the necessary steps involved in creating a communication plan will be capable of effectively sharing vital information and updates throughout the project. This steady flow of communication, allowing all participants to be on the same page throughout, will greatly aid the project in reaching a successful outcome.