Writers Who plan and write in-depth communications strategies so that the moments that matter run smoothly – like that big new product launch, rebrand or internal tech rollout.
Writers Who's guide to creating a communications plan
Communication is the glue that holds people together. It’s also what binds people and brands. A business lacking in communications skills may find itself looking like a forlorn kid wandering the playground, kicking at the dirt with not a mate in sight. Defining your business and communication purpose through a compelling communications plan makes for an unmistakable brand message.
What is a communications plan?
A communications plan is a company’s or organisation’s approach to delivering essential brand messages or content to your target audience. It helps you work out exactly what you are aiming to deliver, the intended audience, and how you will go about spreading the message. Every communications plan will be different depending on the business and the demands of their industry and organisation.
What should a communications plan cover?
The objective of the communication activity;
The audience providing or receiving the information;
The people responsible for each different task;
Timing of the communication;
Frequency of content;
Key stakeholders who will be involved;
The communication channels;
Who will be receiving or providing the communication
What is the difference between an internal and external communications plan?
Whether it’s internal or external, a communications plan needs to be clear, operative, effective and honest. But the way you’ll communicate with clients or employees will require varying methods.
Internal communications is how change is navigated and information is shared with people within your organisation, from the newest recruit to board directors.
The aim is to have everyone informed on company news. To sustain a sense of trust, employees need to know their organisation’s direction, how change will impact them and how they can participate.
Depending on the size of the business, internal communications can be as straightforward as an EDM newsletter or email. Internal communications for bigger organisations can include crafting content for a staff intranet, social media, EDMs, emails and newsletters.
An internal communications calendar will also feature achievements and staff meetings, providing a chance to celebrate milestones and exceptional employee accomplishments.
The aim of external communications is to connect with your target audience, share your company’s news, content or product launch, build and cement your brand and reputation, and to grow brand awareness.
External communications includes a myriad of ways to engage with your customers, clients, stakeholders, contractors, business partners and the wider community.
This can look like content blogs or articles that attract traffic to your website and help with Search Engine Optimisation, social media marketing, print media, in-store promotions if that suits your service or product, podcasts and email marketing. An effective external communications plan is unique to every business.
Cracking communications plan coming right up
Producing a communications plan can be tricky but Writers Who is here to walk you through it. Here’s some stepping stones to creating a communications plan that works for you:
Define your company’s objectives. What needs are you providing? Profitably, marketing, growth; they’re generally a few top contenders.
Define what you want to achieve in the communication sector. This could be a focus on building loyalty or developing brand recognition but it’s important to define so that your business continues to expand and thrive.
Get to know your competitors. How does their communications strategy look? You want to develop something unique.
Know your target audience and intended audience. These are the people you’re going to direct your content to.
Outline communication channels. Where does your content and messaging have the absolute best chance of grabbing attention and making an impact?
Monitor effectiveness. By getting timely feedback or tangible results you can adapt future communications suitably.
Tips for planning a communication matrix
Once you have a communications plan in place that clearly defines what your business's communication method is, the frequency, and how you’ll be managing communications with stakeholders, it’s time to create a communication matrix. A communication matrix is a document that outlines the communication requirements for your organisation’s project. The main elements can include:
Communication: This would include project updates via newsletters and meetings.
Purpose: What’s the purpose of the meeting or the content? Be succinct.
Medium: Is the communication being launched through an in-person meeting, email, or call?
Frequency: How often will you be communicating? Monthly, weekly, or daily?
Audience: Who is this information going to?
Owner: Who is in charge of ensuring this content is sent out?
Deliverable: What discernible item will be the end result of that particular part of your project?
Why do you need a communications plan?
We understand, it can all seem a little overwhelming and you may be inclined to just take it as it comes. But if you’re churning out press releases that receive radio silence, throwing dollars at print or digital advertising but seeing sales dwindle, or your employees struggle to convey a consistent message to customers about your organisation, there’s a high chance mediocre or no communications planning is to blame.
When you clearly define your audience and routinely express your goals about what you’re trying to achieve, it minimises the chance of miscommunication. Staff and stakeholders are on the same page.
Team members know who’s doing what and any issues that arise can be fixed quickly, rather than time spent on working out where the project is up to or who needs to be contacted. External consistency is just as crucial and nurtures clients’ trust in your business.
It saves time and money. If you don’t understand your audience and their expectations, you can’t direct your actions effectively. With stakeholders, board, and employees aligned, your message goes further. It also affords your team all the information they require, so decision-making is streamlined and much faster.
You don’t have to return to square one over and over. A powerful communications plan is a framework for decision-making and a catalyst for creating valuable customer relations.
No-one ever said successful marketing is a walk in the park. But when you’re guided by a communications plan, you can steer your marketing content. A big new product launch, rebrand or internal tech rollout ahead? Your communications plan considers all crucial elements that need to be taken into account to ensure your launch goes smoothly.
It measures success. Include parameters and a review process in your communications plan so that down the track you can assess whether your business hit the targets you set or if you need to change direction.
The process of creating a communications plan is dynamic and sets the groundwork for an ongoing – but meticulously strategised series of communications – to keep your business on track for success and longevity.