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What to include in a communications plan

A communications plan is a crucial tool for any organization or business looking to effectively communicate with its target audience. In a previous blog we covered identifying your target audience and the traits that might help you develop messaging that resonates and where to use this messaging.

It outlines the key messages, channels, and tactics that will be used to reach and engage with stakeholders. Whether you are launching a new product, managing a crisis, or simply trying to build brand awareness, a well-executed communications plan can make all the difference. In this blog post, we will explore what to include in a communications plan to ensure its success.

1. Executive Summary:

This section provides an overview of the communications plan and highlights its objectives, target audience, and key messages. It should be concise and compelling, summarizing the essence of the plan.

2. Situation Analysis:

This section provides an assessment of the current situation or context in which the communications plan is being developed. It involves analysing the organization's internal and external environment, identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis), and understanding the needs and expectations of the target audience.

3. Objectives:

Clearly defined objectives are critical to guide the communications efforts. They should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART objectives). Common objectives may include increasing brand awareness, improving customer satisfaction, driving website traffic, or generating leads.

4. Target Audience:

Identifying and understanding the target audience is key to effective communication. This section should include demographic information, psychographic profiles, and any other relevant details that help tailor messages and communication channels to the audience. you can use your buying persona's in this section. Remember your target audience may not just be customers, depending on where your business is in it's lifecycle, you may need to communicate with investors or collaborators. You target audience should focus on those who will make a final decision but remember to think about other who can influence the decision. We have seen too many people fall down because they concentrated all their efforts on the surgeon but forgot the scrub nurse and ensuring their concerns were addressed too.

5. Key Messages:

Crafting compelling and consistent messages is essential for effective communication. This section should include the key messages that will be conveyed to the target audience. Messages should be clear, concise, and most importantly address the needs and interests of the audience. Try to think like a customer and ask yourself "what's in it for them" These messages need to make the customer want to find out more and follow through with your call to action.

6. Communication Channels:

This section outlines the various channels that will be used to reach the target audience. Common channels include websites, social media platforms, email newsletters, print media, events, and public relations. Each channel should be assessed for its effectiveness in reaching and engaging the target audience. Remember to refer to your buying persona's don't try and do all possible communication channels but be targeted. Marketing isn't what you want to spend all day doing, unless you are us of course, so pick those you have identified as most likely to be seen by your target audience. If you are unsure pick a couple and try using these for a few months, then analyse your effectiveness to decide if you stick with these or try others. Also remember communication doesn't have to be digital think about where your customers go, identify other touch points you can use to make contact with potential customers or investors.

7. Tactics and Implementation:

Here, the specific tactics and activities that will be used to communicate the key messages are detailed. This can include content creation, social media campaigns, media relations, advertising, events, and more. Each tactic should be aligned with the objectives and target audience identified earlier. We would suggest building a plan month by month for top line this might include LinkedIn posts 3x a week, a blog once a month, networking session every 2 moths etc.

8. Timeline and Budget:

The communications plan should include a timeline that outlines when each tactic will be executed and completed. This ensures that communication efforts are well-coordinated and timely. So for the upcoming month plan every detail. So using the example above what will be the content of the LinkedIn posts each week, remembering to ensure they include the key messaging and have a call to action. The blog content and the elevator pitch you will use at the networking event.

The blog and LinkedIn posts can be scheduled using a scheduling tool such as Buffer or Planable ahead of time so you don't need to plan time each day to carry out the posting. You will still need to schedule time to check for comment and reply, interaction is what you are striving for so you need to ensure you follow up on your posts.

Additionally, a budget should be developed to determine the resources needed to implement the various tactics and activities.

9. Measurement and Evaluation:

Measuring the success of the communications plan is crucial for continuous improvement. This section outlines the metrics and tools that will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the tactics and activities. These can include website analytics, social media engagement, customer feedback, and media coverage. These will typically link into the measurement part of the objectives you set.

10. Contingency Plans:

While it is ideal to plan for smooth execution, unexpected events or crises may arise. This section outlines contingency plans and procedures to mitigate any potential risks or issues that may affect the communication efforts. This could include who is a possible person to stand in if you or someone in the team is not able to follow up on this plan. This is so much easier to do if you have a detailed plan than just trying to get someone to take over communications for a few weeks!

In conclusion, a well-designed communications plan is vital for effective and strategic communication. It should include an executive summary, situation analysis, objectives, target audience, key messages, communication channels, tactics and implementation, timeline and budget, measurement and evaluation, and contingency plans. By considering and including these elements in a communications plan, organizations can enhance their ability to connect with their target audience and achieve their communication goals.

If this all sounds like to much and you need some help in developing and or executing a plan then get in touch we would love to talk about how we can help you.

Alternatively if you would like our communications template please get in touch with comms plan in the message.

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