Communications Plan Template
Communicate a clear, effective message to your audience.
About the Communications Plan template
What is a Communications Plan?
A communications plan is an end-to-end strategy for delivering a message to your audience. At every stage of your business, you will need to command the message, control the narrative, and compel your audience. Whether you’ve secured funding, hired a CEO, hit a revenue goal, or suffered a data breach, a clear communications plan is vital to your business’s success. Regardless of your company’s size, vertical, or stage of growth, you need a communications plan.
How to use the Communications Plan template
You’ve heard the saying: if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Quite simply, if your business hits a milestone, and you don’t have a communications plan, it will not make a sound.
But it’s cumbersome and unscalable to draft a communications plan every time you want to reach your audience. Use the Communications Plan template to simplify the process, streamline your messaging, and grow with your business.
Who should use a Communications Plan?
1. Marketing teams. From startups to enterprise businesses, every marketing team should have a communications plan.
2. Non-profits. In the fast-paced world of nonprofits, some things never change: namely, the need to communicate. Since non-profits rely on the public to stay afloat, it’s important to craft effective messaging.
3. Agencies. Both agencies and their clients should draft communications plans to stay ahead of the game.
4. Leadership. CEOs, VPs, spokespeople, and public figures should each have a communications plan, regardless of whether they’re sending a weekly company email or presenting to a board of investors.
How do I use the template to create a Communications Plan?
Step 1: Develop a brand statement. Before you can begin working on your communications plan, you need to figure out who you are as a brand. Your brand statement will shape the tone, voice, and structure of your plan.
Think of the brand statement as your charter, or your promise. Think about the audience you want to reach and the purpose your organization seeks to serve. Here’s a popular guideline:
Our organization exists to provide [benefit] [benefit], and [benefit] to [audience] through [product or service].
Step 2: Figure out your unique selling proposition (USP). Your brand exists to fill a niche that no other brand can fill. So, what is it? What problems do you solve? What needs do you address? What can you do that your competitors cannot? What do you do better? These core questions will inform your communications plan, so it’s important to get them right.
Step 3: Define success. Think about what objectives your company must achieve to be successful. Every team in the organization is working toward these objectives.
Step 4: Map out your audience personas. Imagine you’re giving a speech about the importance of making art. Your personaes are the people who you would expect to sit in the audience. Think about who your company is trying to reach so you can create messages that resonate with them.
The Communications Plan template helps you map out personas step-by-step. Begin by contacting your customers to learn more about them. Use a survey tool to poll them on their demographics, their perceptions of your brand, their wants, and their needs. If you have content on your site, use analytic tools to see who is consuming it. If you have social media accounts, check out your followers and see if you can identify any trends.
Once you’ve gathered this data, you can start to craft the personas themselves. Specify exactly who the personas are. Returning to our speech about making art: one key persona might be a 25-year-old MFA grad. If you’re a business that sells environmentally-friendly tee shirts, a persona might be a 30-year-old, college-educated male with disposable income.
Step 5: Craft your narrative. This is the story you want to tell. What makes your brand unique? How did you get started? What do you hope to do? And relatedly, what misperceptions do you want to dispel about your type of organization? Remember, you’re wading into a dense competitive landscape. It’s important to set yourself apart by distinguishing your brand from those that came before you.
Step 6: Choose your communications channels. How are you going to get the word out there? Your channels might change depending on the size of your company, the resources you have, and the audience you hope to reach. Many companies use a blog, downloadable assets, and social media channels to tell their story, but you might also invest in online ads, commercials, or mailers, or you might give interviews or conference presentations.
Step 7: Set goals. These goals should tie into the objectives you established earlier. For example, if your objective is to raise funds, then you could aim to send marketing emails to 30 investors this quarter. Make sure your goals are reasonable and measurable.
Step 8: Schedule out your communications. If you have a blog, create an editorial calendar. If you’re sending out social media posts, write up a social media plan that corresponds with your product launches or other major initiatives. The bottom line: stay organized, focused, and on task -- and pace yourself.
Step 9: Take stock of your success. Delve into the data to see what went right and what you can do better.
Why make a Communications Plan?
Crafting a communications plan puts you ahead of your competition. It ensures that your brand is always putting your best foot forward. A robust communications plan allows you to tell your story to your audience in a way that is compelling, focused, and streamlined. It sells your product, wins customers, and earns investors.
When to use the Communications Plan template
Use the communications template any time you need a strategy to communicate to your audience. You may find this especially beneficial when you know a big event such as a new product release is about to occur.
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