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  • Performance Drivers Pty Ltd

How to write a communications plan. (Part 2)

Communications plan templates and tools.

A communication plan helps guide your project’s communication activities, ensuring you are connecting them to the objectives of your project and actively engaging all your stakeholders in the changes which will occur.

Preparing the plan involves articulating the ‘what’, ‘who’ and ‘why’ of the project. Stating your communication objectives, developing your key messages, identifying who you will be targeting in your audience, and how and when you will communicate with them.

This communication plan framework can scale to fit projects of different sizes. You will find tips and examples in the template too. However, the most important factor is creating communications which engage and address the information needs of your audience.

Begin with audience analysis

Starting by thinking about people is the best way to develop your communications plan. The communication objectives and organisational details will flow from clarifying who you will be communicating with, why you are communicating with them, and what you want to communicate to them.

Break your audience into groups or segments according to the different interactions and relationships they will have with the change process or the project.

Some audience segments could be just one person, they could be internal or from outside the organisation. Target segments could be senior management, heads of department, high value customers, suppliers, government authorities, or the local community. You could even have a segment for everyone else who works in the organisation and won’t be affected by the project’s outcomes.

Brainstorm all the internal and external audience segments you will need to contact during your project and put your analysis of them into this template. It can be just a working document or included in your communications plan as an appendix.

The communications plan

Using your audience analysis to help you, work your way through the sections of the communications plan.

Section 1: Background

Briefly describe the situation and why the organisation is undertaking the project.

Customer expectations and competitive forces have increased. Now we need to focus on increasing our manufacturing productivity to deliver faster and reduce our costs.

Section 2: Objectives

There are two levels of objectives in a communications plan. The overarching objectives for the whole plan and the objectives for each communication activity within the plan. The higher-level overarching objectives recorded in this section will typically be about:

  • Building awareness of a project

  • Securing the commitment of stakeholders

  • Influencing attitudes and behaviours

  • Encouraging participation

  • Keeping people informed

  • Managing the announcement difficult changes like facility closures and staff reductions

Section 3: Key messages

Messages are the words that help you deliver your story. They help you focus your communication and keep it consistent.

You‘re selling an idea, so you need to be persuasive, using authority, emotion, and reason, to appeal to your audience.

A message is usually 1-3 sentences. You should have a list of key messages that will be constantly repeated. Make them clear, jargon-free, remove technical language, and make sure they are relevant. You will get about 7 seconds of people’s attention, so keep them concise too.

Key message: Re-organising our manufacturing processes will increase productivity and the success of the business.

Supporting messages:

  • We will do this by reducing waste and installing new equipment to eliminate repetitive manual work

  • Manufacturing team members will have some changes in their duties and training will be provided if necessary to help them contribute to increasing productivity.

  • Customers will benefit as orders will be delivered faster.

These messages will be used by different levels of management to maintain consistency when communicating about the project. However, the detail and tone will differ. Staff want to hear from senior managers and ask them questions, but the conversations they have with their direct manager will be more detailed. The communication by direct managers is very important, as it is very influential and more trusted than other sources of information.

Section 4: The communications matrix

A communications matrix is simply a way of organising your communications action plan. The structure of the matrix helps you think about what needs to be done and provide all the necessary details. It is also a document you can share with key stakeholders.

The communications matrix provides the details for creating the communication and is used with the schedule. The schedule triggers when activity will occur. With all the actions in the plan entered when they will occur, including each instance of monthly progress reports and other communications actions which are delivered more than once.

Communication activities and channels.

Section 5: The communications schedule

A communications matrix is simply a way of organising your communications action plan. The structure of the matrix helps you think about what needs to be done and provide all the necessary details. It is also a document you can share with key stakeholders.

Feedback and evaluation

Like any element of a project, the communications program should be included in the post-project evaluation.

However, it is more valuable to collect feedback and evaluate communication activities during the project. This will tell you if you are communicating effectively or if you need to try different ways to get the message across. If you don’t the whole project could suffer.



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