Creating a corporate communications plan is an art rather than an exact science. There are different methods and techniques in which you can approach it. This truth makes planning both challenging and flexible.
While there is no specific formula to use when creating a corporate communications plan, you can certainly utilize the following guide when you are either designing an overall strategy or wanting to implement a specific project or policy:
For any corporate communications plan to be successful, objectives have to be established from the get-go. Objectives make sure that your strategy is organizationally driven rather than communications driven – meaning the communication plan is not an end in itself; rather, it is used to achieve a particular goal by aligning with the company’s overall core objectives.
By aligning your communications objectives with your core organizational objectives, you are able to reinforce the need and relevance of communications. This then provides you with a convincing case for the proper allocation of resources to your cause.
Ask yourself who you want to communicate with in order to achieve the objectives you have set. While your audience may be obvious in certain cases, remember that there will be times that the best audience to target may not always be apparent and targeting audiences such as the media may not always help your cause.
Look at the bigger picture and go for the audience which can help you make a wider impact. Remember that choosing the right audience will help get your messaging heard and implemented, while choosing the wrong one may negatively affect your company as you would have to dedicate limited resources to it instead of other departments in your business.
Instead of coming up with overly complicated, long messages when creating a corporate communications plan, create a comprehensive case instead which covers all key messages. Summarize your case in around three key points which could be constantly repeated and easily remembered.
While you may want to present your plan in a formal manner, remember that communication is about telling a story; don’t hesitate using narration, engaging imagery and human interest stories to get your points across.
4. Tools and activities
Jot down the tools and activities you feel are the most appropriate to use to communicate your messages. For example, while an internal newsletter is the best platform to use to communicate with employees on a regular basis regarding their interests and achievements, an annual report is the best tool to use to disclose company information to stakeholders.
5. Resources and timeline
Remember never to overpromise, and to always deliver what you have promised. Use the appropriate resources for your plan, and make sure that your timeline is feasible considering the amount of resources you have and the amount of work that needs to be done.
6. Evaluation and assessment
After creating and executing your communications plan, make sure to evaluate and assess how effective your strategy was and what you can learn from it. Use open questions, and if possible, ask an independent party to do the analysis and assessment. Look through the results and make changes to your future plans should changes be necessary.
You may also seek feedback from your staff members regarding their experiences with the strategy that was implemented. Ask questions such as:
- What works? What doesn’t work?
- What did you want to see/read/hear/etc more of?
- What information did you need that was not provided?
- How often do you want management to communicate with you?
- Are there any specific changes you think need to be implemented with regards to the plan?