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.
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 for 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. Key to this is having realistic timelines – rushing at this stage isn’t a good idea. You’d 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. Our 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.