Developing a corporate communication plan is one of the key responsibilities of a business communicator, next only to actually implementing it. Communication is vital in any organization, as it can ensure that the employees are made aware of the corporate objectives and working together to achieve those goals. It can also affect the company’s bottom line by promoting its products and services to the external public.
Corporate communication plans can integrate the programs, education, and advocacy efforts of an organization. It can help the communications department in strategically and effectively deploying resources, as well as highlight synergies in various initiatives and departments. Adapting a long-term communication strategy can also make the company’s communications department more proactive instead of reactive.
Corporate communicators can design and develop a communications plan through the use of communication templates. The said document can serve as a guide for an external or internal communications team in creating and implementing a strategic plan to convey an important message to the rest of an organization, or to an external audience.
Here are the typical sections of communication templates that most organizations use in crafting communication plans:
- Identification of Objectives/GoalsThe first part of a communication plan is usually the enumeration of the organization’s communication goals. This section sets the tone, so to speak, for the rest of the plan as the activities to be done would be in support of the achievement of the set goals and objectives.
Goals and objectives may range from generating positive media coverage by enhancing relationships with members of the media, or increasing public awareness on the company’s new product or service. For those concerned with internal communications, objectives may include promoting the use of a new IT program, or soliciting employee feedback on a new HR policy.
- Identification of Target AudiencesThe next section is the identification of the target audience, or the recipient of the message. Communication units need to identify first the target audiences before they can craft a plan on how to reach them, and what message to convey.
Target audiences may be broad like the general public, potential customers, or the legal community. It can also be more specific like a particular segment of the workforce such as employees disgruntled over a new HR policy, or members of the corporate finance department, for instance.
Once the target audiences have been identified, the communications team will need to list down the ways or channels by which these intended message recipients can be reached. Communication tools and methods may range from newsletters, press releases, meetings/group discussions, and town hall meetings.
- Crafting Strategic MessagesThe next step is developing strategic messages intended for the target audience.
The campaign message should consist of one important idea, but also includes a handful of key points. To have an easier time developing the message, it may be a good idea to list a few important points before crafting the main message.
For instance, a campaign intended to promote the use of a new IT program may have the following key points—user-friendly application, fast-tracking of processes, and immediate roll-out. From these key points, the main message may appear as: ‘a new IT program will be rolled out soon.’ Supporting points include the benefits of the program such as it being user-friendly, and that it can fast track processes in the company.
- Identification/Selection of the Spokesperson/Communication ToolsAfter crafting the main message and its supporting points, the next task is to identify the spokesperson for the campaign. Most of the time, the top honcho of the company is tasked to deliver the news like the president or CEO when it comes to talking about the company’s financial performance.
Company CEO may also be the one to convey the message in an internal communications campaign, although other executives like HR manager or IT project manager may be tapped for the role.
- Timelines and Roles/ResponsibilitiesCommunication templates also require business communicators to identify the schedule of the campaign. Like in any program, a communication plan should be implemented at a specific time frame. The team must determine the timelines depending on their resources and budget.
The unit then assigns roles and responsibilities to each member. A project manager, usually the communications department head, will be in charge of the overall implementation of the project. Another member may be in charge of the production of collaterals, while another will be tasked to supervise the distribution of materials.
- Assessment/EvaluationCommunication templates won’t be complete without an integrated evaluation component. This serves as a way to check accountability and implement improvements over time. Evaluation may include monitoring certain developments like increase in the usage of an IT program that was recently rolled out, or recent policy changes.
Communication teams that will run a campaign should have a good start with their initiatives if they design their programs using communication templates.