How to build a Communications Plan
Updated: Feb 19
Developing a Communications Plan is an evolving process requiring patience, time and dedication. The importance of having a Communications Plan is key to letting your customers and audience understand your key values while serving to inform, engage and entertain. Here's a bit more information about the importance of having a Communications Plan.
Before starting the planning process, it’s important to assess your existing communications strategy and performance to gain some insight into where improvements can be made. Gather information about your existing communication channels, readership engagement, content formats and the most effective times to engage.
Now you know where you are, its time to capture the information into one document. Your Communications Plan should cover the following components of your organisation:
1. Unique Selling Position. What sets you apart from your competitors? What do you offer that no-one else does? What problems do you solve? The answers to these kinds of questions should be incorporated into your Communications Plan.
2. Brand Statement. Establish what your organisation does and the benefits to your customers from your products and services.
3. Communications Objectives. Align your Communications Plan to your business objectives. For example, if you're a real estate agent who specialises in one suburb then you should be placing yourself as an expert in that area.
4. Audiences. Who are you trying to reach and where do they hang out? But before establishing this, who are your current customers and what are their demographics? This information can be revealed through research, surveys and analytics. Also consider who your competitors and partners are attracting. It’s likely that you’ll have multiple audiences depending on your business objectives.
5. What’s your story? What makes you interesting and what do you offer? Consider what’s most important about your organisation that you want people to know about. Perhaps there are some common misconceptions about you that you’d like to dispel?
5. Channels/Audience. Where are you going to share your message and how often? There are many channels to choose from, but now that you’ve done your research, you know where to reach your audience. Some examples include:
Company blog – featuring a blog greatly improves your search engine rankings and helps to establish authority and share news.
Email – Emails are a proven and successful method of communication often yielding high returns. Some common types of emails include newsletters, special offers and press releases.
Social media – The current bans on sharing content in Facebook only goes to show how important having multiple channels of communication is, but nonetheless, it’s a great way to keep your audience engaged across multiple platforms.
Editorial – Securing placement in key publications through independent editorial is one of the most authentic ways of promotion.
Company collateral – This includes printed flyers, brochures, signage and other printed materials.
Traditional advertising – Placing an advertisement in a publication, on TV or the radio can be wide reaching, while keeping your audience entertained and engaged.
6. Messaging Matrix. All that information you’ve collated works towards your messaging matrix covering your brand statement, target audience, core problem/issue and key messages. Ensure that each audience is addressed with each message relevant to them.
7. Content. Plan your campaigns and content around activities and events such as new product releases, major events and sales cycles. This is where you can really get creative brainstorming ideas with your team - its a great team building exercise, boosts morale and improves internal communication. Here is your free guide to Firing Up Your Content Creation.
8. Goals & Metrics. Your goals should relate back to your business objectives and be specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-bound.
10. Plan your calendar. Organise your strategy with a marketing calendar determining deadlines, the author, channels, headline, call to action, status, etc. This can be created in an excel spreadsheet, google docs/calendar or a specific app for your organisation.
11. Measuring. Measuring the performance of your Communications Plan is critical to your success in how you’re perceived by the public. Track your outputs (how many posts, press releases, advertisements, etc), the outtakes (analytics, insights, etc) and the outcomes (click throughs from calls-to-action, signups, direct responses, increased sales etc).
Okay, this might seem like a bit of work but think of how productive you’ll be when your content is planned out in advance, leaving you free to focus on the task of running your business.
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