Building an Effective Communications Plan
Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 09:00
What is a communication plan? When should it be developed? Where does the information in the plan come from? How do you write one, and why should I bother? In today’s work environment, methods of communication are changing at lightning speeds which, if you’re unprepared, can feel a bit daunting. Before launching an event, website, new product or service, it’s critical that your organization create a Communications Plan to guarantee your efforts are having the impact you’re looking for. A good Communications Plan should be a road map that guides your work toward specific outcomes and it should relate to an organization’s brand, image, mission, values, and goals. Developing a Communications Plan should be a dynamic process - as your organization changes, the way you communicate will also need to change. Creating a Communications Plan ensures your target audiences receive, understand and act on your messages, and makes certain that you’re doing the right work, pursuing the right goals, and doing it the best way possible with the resources you have available.
Four key areas that need to be considered when developing your Communications Plan:
- Identify your key messages early – A key message is the core content for all your communications tools and is what you want your audience to remember. Effective key messages provide straightforward, clearly worded information that seeks to engage people and get them interested.
Your key message should be:
- Eye catching
- Create excitement
- Easy for people to understand and remember
- Relevant to the intended audience
Supporting messages provide the facts, examples, and simple explanations that reinforce your key messages. Your supporting messages are built by breaking your primary message down to 2-3 points in order to create a “story” that builds on your main message.
- Determine who your target audience(s) is/are - Once you have determined who your target audiences are, whether they are internal or external, you will need to devise a specific plan and a particular message for each of them.
- Internal examples: Clubs, NSOs, Sport Canada, Canadian Heritage, Athletes, Coaches, Staff, Canadian Sport Centres/Institutes, corporate partners, parents, etc.
- External examples – Media, Fans, potential corporate partners, governments (municipal, provincial, federal), etc.
- Include a digital strategy – Incorporating social media into your communications plan is essential. With so many social media platforms available to organizations to communicate their key messages, events, announcements, etc. this is an easy, inexpensive way to reach a huge audience. Be sure to use as many platforms as possible and tailor the key message to the platform used!
- Post-event communication – Don’t overlook the importance of post-event communication. Post-event communication helps the transition of efforts from the current event to the success of the next. Staying engaged with participants immediately following the conclusion of an event can enhance your key messages and build upon the event experience. Keeping the event and event experiences at the forefront of attendee’s minds prolongs the buzz of a success and may be the factor that guarantees future participation or attention.
Communications Plan Resources
- Creating Your Communications Plan by Sylvie Bigras
- Communications Strategy Template
- Plan the Work – Strategic Communication Planning for Not-for-Profit Organizations
- Post Event Email Templates – Relay For Life
- Integrated Marketing and Communication Plan Example – OPS Dragon Boat Club