How to Create a Communications Plan for your Team
Effective communication is something that businesses can’t exist without nowadays. Paying attention to it is essential regardless of whether you talk to customers, business partners, investors, or employees.
To develop a messaging strategy that is relevant and consistent, you need a communication plan. You can use one to guide the process of setting measurable goals for your communication strategy, successfully delivering your message to various groups, as well as identifying and profiling your target audience.
If you’re curious to find out how to create an impactful communication plan for your team, we’ll discuss that below.
What is a Communication Plan?
A communication plan is a tool that helps you deliver information effectively to your key team members, as well as customers and investors.
One could include aspects like:
- what messages are to be promoted,
- who those messages are intended for,
- which channels are to be used to communicate those messages.
You can use a good communication plan during various internal and external processes, such as for:
- pitching new initiatives,
- launching new product marketing campaigns,
- providing stakeholders with important information,
- responding to government changes,
and much more.
3 easy steps to create a communications plan for your team
Creating a communication plan may seem like a challenging task, especially if you have a large team. There certainly are numerous factors you should take into consideration, depending on the purpose of your communication plan.
These are just some of the questions you may want to bear in mind:
- What’s the main goal or aim of your plan?
- Who is going to be involved in the plan and how?
- Is it for your online or offline channels, if not both?
- Who will you be writing it for?
Once you get all, or at least some of these answers, you’ll be good to go.
Now let’s take a look at 3 simple steps to create an actual communication plan.
#1 Audit your existing communication plan
The communication plan you develop has to be integrated into your entire business strategy. It must be aligned with your business goals and objectives, as well as having a focus on strengthening your company’s position in the marketplace.
Before you actually begin writing your plan, there’s some homework that you need to do. It’s a good idea to start by auditing your existing communication strategy.
An audit will help you get a better perspective on where you currently stand so that you can identify gaps or weaknesses in your plan.
Carrying out an audit requires some work up front, but doing so will help you save time throughout the year by reducing duplication and increasing consistency across all your channels. Plus, an audit can provide important insights into how well your team is performing. Regularly gathering such insights is a great opportunity for you to deeply analyze your team’s productivity and overall performance.
For example, imagine you’re planning on launching a new product on social media that will require effective communication from your side. This is the perfect opportunity for you to take a step back and get a broader view of the way you’re currently handling communication.
Are your messages consistent and understandable to all team members? Is there something missing that a team member noticed? Do you have enough marketing materials, and do all of your team members know about them?
These are things you should pay attention to before actually designing your communication plan. Without having a clear understanding of your current communication situation, you may risk failing to deliver upon your promises.
#2 Identify your audience
Once you’ve performed an audit, it’s time to think about who you’ll be communicating your message to.
There are various entities that companies deal with every day, including:
- media outlets,
- government organizations,
just to name a few examples. Now, depending on the target audience of your messages, you should have different communication styles prepared.
For instance, you will definitely use a different approach when talking to your investors compared to when addressing your customers on social media.
For those preparing to speak to media outlets, creating a press release that outlines your goals is a good idea. You can, for example, implement a process for who will engage with the media. This could include a description of what they will say, or even a detailed action plan for each marketing channel.
Similarly, if your communication plan addresses your employees, you might want to design some sort of internal document for full clarity.
Whoever you’re planning on communicating with, it’s vital that everyone in your team has a clear understanding of all the practices to follow. This will ensure that everyone works in symbiosis, delivering a consistent message in line with the company’s strategy.
#3 Write your plan, keeping the previous points in mind
Finally, it’s time for the magic to happen. The last step is writing your plan.
As you craft your plan, it might be a smart idea to create a roadmap outlining key things including:
- the messages you plan on sharing,
- to whom they will be distributed,
- on what channels you will be sharing those messages,
- the timeline and frequency of communication.
How to structure your communications plan
Following your general outline, here’s an example of how you may want to structure your communications plan:
#1 Goal – what is this communication plan for?
Explain in detail what the purpose of this particular communications plan is, who it is for, and how it will be used. Go into as much detail as possible.
#2 Plan elements of your communication plan
Consider what elements should be included in your communication plan. This may vary depending on the maturity and size of your company, so it is important to always adjust any template or benchmark to your own footprint.
During this stage, you should think about:
- who is going to use your communication plan and be involved in its execution,
- how the messages are going to be delivered,
- when and where is the communication going to proceed.
Doing this will allow you to manage and allocate tasks evenly among your team members, as well as in accordance with their skills and expertise.
#3 Escalation Framework – what further steps to implement?
Keep in mind that sometimes, situations can get out of hand. This is especially true on social media where often one bad move can cause something to go viral. You need to be ready for a quick reaction.
Here’s an example of Delta Airlines, a company that thought giraffes were an animal that could be found in Ghana.
Hint: you can’t.
To ensure that your team is completely prepared for every eventuality, provide them with a framework of possibilities. This means including even the worst-case scenarios, and how to deal with them.
#4 Roles and responsibilities of each team member
You also have to be upfront and precise about every team member’s responsibilities. Do include them in the communication plan and make sure that everyone familiarizes themselves with it.
This way, you will avoid any misunderstandings and everyone will be perfectly aware of their duties. You will also save time, what leaves room for improving workflows, and boosting overall team communication.
#5 Do’s and Dont’s
A list of things that your team members should and shouldn’t do, with clear explanations and descriptions.
You can never have too many rules. This is especially true when they’re aimed at helping other people with being better at what they do.
For this reason, we suggest that you include a section with “do’s and don’ts” regarding your communication plan style. Your team members will certainly find it helpful to know what’s acceptable and what’s not. Thanks to these guidelines in place, your employees will be able to have a quick look at the guideline to dispel any doubts immediately in case they feel uncertain.
#6 How to maintain an effective response plan – what are your rules?
Finally, at the very end of your communication plan, you may want to include a short but contentful guide that your team should stick to in order to maintain the effectiveness.
This way, there will be no confusion in terms of course of action. The less chaos, the better results your plan will bring.
Effective Communications Plan – easier than you thought
As you can see, coming up with a communication plan for your team is not that difficult after all. All you need is a well-thought-out strategy in place to follow and the plan will more-or-less write itself.
The benefits of having a well-designed communication plan are often underestimated. It’s time to put an end to that and become a communication master. With our article, it’s possible.
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