Introduction to Communication Plan
We as humans are driven by communication which is a source of our life and activities. We are the ventures of the organizations and their prolific creations, strategies, or ideologies that they want to present to their audiences or within their own corporate or non-corporate circles. This intensity to project drives these organizations towards adopting communication plans that would speak voluminously about them and their thematic proposals and schemes.
So what is a communication plan, and why is it so imperative?
A communication plan is a written document that presents the company’s objectives, aims, and activities or projects. We can also say it is an informative piece that explains to the stakeholders and concerned team what the company aims at and its plans.
The following components constitute a communication plan:
- Aims and objectives
- Process and action plan
- List of stakeholders or a team involved in the projects
- Finding out people to whom the communication plan should be addressed?
- How are you going to evaluate your projected profits?
Communication can be in any form as reports, electronic media, print publications, conference material, surveys, marketing or sales tools, speeches, etc., to enable the project heads or a management team to plan their project as per the company’s expectations and realizes their targeted goals. They can set up the desired standard and tone of communication to set a certain pace for the project and consistent workflow. It also helps the project planners set their priorities and optimally utilize resources.
As pertinent as a communication plan, the way to develop it is equally important, which is implanted by the needs of the corporate entities.
How to Develop a Communication Plan?
Here are certain tips for developing an impactful communication plan!
1. Study the communication trend and audit your research
Find out the communication trend in your organization. Some organizations are hiring firms to determine what’s going on, but this expenditure might burden your company’s budget. So you can save by studying how the others in the organization communicate, how they interact and accomplish their day-to-day operational activities, and whether they are getting concrete results.
To get the answers, you need to fix an appointment, brainstorm with your staff members and manager, and find the results or any drawbacks or issues that might hamper their communication process.
2. Select the person who would be taking the lead
Before starting the actual process (How to Develop a Communication Plan?), finding a spokesperson who would initiate the communication process and formulate the plan is imperative. He should meet the following criteria:
- He should always be ready to cooperate, coordinate with the other team members and Staff, and set communication goals and plans.
- He should be capable of allocating the time and Staff to meet the communication needs.
- Have the capability to decide the requisite communication system and its effectiveness and impact it might have.
- He should engage the evaluator and others in generating and revising the different communicative strategies and plans.
- Have the ability to generate many creative ideas for the successful implementation of the communication plan,
3. Develop communication and trust among your peers and community
You should maintain strong communication and trust and manage the expectations of the concerned people, especially the partners, in your efforts. This creates a secure environment and reduces all the chances of any risk or rumors. Furthermore, the correct and timely information can help communities engage in active participation in the programs, get feedback, have meaningful engagement, and understand the benefits they can get from the program.
Define the Objectives and Goals
After all the information from the company, establish the objectives and goals of the plan and what you want to achieve. Your objectives conjure the objectives of the company, which includes
- Your services towards the company,
- How well can you create an impact
- How can you centralize your communication network
- Build teamwork
- Improve the product delivery
- How does your communication plan impact the stakeholders, media, and government?
The goals are the resources required, whether human or mechanical, the process adopted for the project, the kind of products or services the company intends to produce or promote, and the improvements needed in the current processes or functioning.
1. Find out the potential audiences /readers of your communication plan
It would help if you found out the potential audience your associations might be contacting or trying to influence you. These audiences are your consumers, members, concerned associations, educators, industrialists, media, etc. This would include your study and research on the people who might directly impact the ongoing projects or the activities and find out the groups who are part of the organization or an outsider but are related to the project. This would enable you to prioritize your targeted audience and make a better decision.
2. Activities that you need to put in before or after communication implementation
You need to judge the kind of information and activities you need to share your information. Then, form different groups or communities, conduct reviews, and evaluate the processes. Involve in the monthly community meeting and create a forum where concerned people can converse or share concerns. It is also very imperative to share your research or findings with the evaluators and perform surveys.
3. Design your key points
Find and design the important points or messages that you want to deliver. Then, it would help you to filter the unnecessary facts or information and deliver what is best, accurate, and effective. This would also help you understand the people’s needs and expectations and the questions they can ask. And help you to understand how the program and project can affect the community or state.
When deciding on the message, understand and evaluate the situation in which the communication process is implied and the audience’s mood, the language in which the message has to be conveyed, the type of message to convey, and the overall design. The message should be drafted while keeping the type of audience in mind. Also important if the audience is young, old, or children and then frame the message accordingly. As said by James Thurber, “Precision of communication is more important than ever, in our era of hair trigger balances, when a false or misunderstood word may create as much disaster as a sudden thoughtless act.”
4. Evaluate the Sensitivity of the audience
Find out the people’s moods and determine how the people should react to the situation mood and Sensitivity of the situation. No message should have any word or statement that disrespects the people’s language, culture, religion, or faith. Find out the audience’s general mood, and retain a correct balance for communication; retaining a positive tone will help reach more people rather than spreading negativity that may ignite fear or anger.
Know the language your audience speaks and whether the language you use is formal or informal, simple or sophisticated. If you are reaching out to the people, you must write and use the people’s language. Else for dignitaries or the corporate world, sophisticated language is required. The situation might come in deciding whether to choose an informal or a formal language. Sometimes too formal language might make the listeners feel you are not speaking to them. The language should be straightforward and clear, showing what you want to say and feel.
6. Find the mode of communication
Think of the best media mode for communication: electronic, print, or verbal. These mediums could include pamphlets, flyers, covers, websites, cards, and Television. Discuss the ideas with the managerial team and other Staff and develop the idea that would get you success. The medium needed for communication also depends on the audience being targeted during the communication process.
It would help if you ensured that the mode of communication you choose gets your message across to the concerned departments or people on time; for instance, some may require a PowerPoint presentation, while the press may need an interview with a head of the project team. Correct decision made on the choice of media entails your success in communication patterns and the framework you choose. It would help if you ensured the evaluation team members were comfortable with the different communication types. (How to Develop a Communication Plan?)
Given the various types, members of your evaluation team must be comfortable with the type of communication you are using or implying.
The type of Tools or medium in the communication includes:
- Meeting Summaries
- Status reports
- News Letters
- Internet/Intranet Web page
- Small group meetings etc
7. Find the factors that can affect the communication method
Work on the different factors or reasons that can impact your selected communication methods, look at the local situation and case, and find out the kind of communication channels available in the community and the type of activities that can be incorporated. You also need to determine the type of audience- their religion, culture, age group, sex ratio, whether they are literate or illiterate, and more young or married people. Most important of all, how these people can be reached. A significant factor that people generally ignore is the extent of the risk involved in spreading the communication message to the people. Another aspect is whether the communication process could be two-way or one-way, for instance, whether a program requires feedback.
8. Set up the matrix
The best idea is to have a matrix with the communication plan related to the specific project, like reviewing the meetings and setting the status message. Explain the project’s theme, the key points of discussion, how the project will be delivered, the targeted audiences, and the responsibilities they share. This can help in setting expectations and setting boundaries for communication.
This process would lead to the conversion of the matrix into an informative piece, a graphic that could be shared and utilized by anybody whosoever is working on the project.
9. Set up a schedule
Once you have found your goals and objective, organize all the data in a calendar format and mention briefs about the projects that would be covered or the tasks that need to be accomplished as per the priority, and separate each task logically per the week or month.
10. Analyze the result
Create a method for generating a result; the evaluation process should be your monthly report, presentation or staff meeting, department report, or briefings of a staff executive. Your analysis or evaluation depends on the number of times you need to present the results. The situation might arise when you present the results before the concerned team, even before your evaluation process is over. You should also determine when constituents might want to review your result process.
11. Resources needed
Determining the estimated budget and anticipated results from the expenditure is imperative. Then, calculate the cost and how you will gain from the investment.
12. Find out about the anticipated hurdles or emergencies
As stated above, the communication process involves many paradigms and routes where hurdles or emergencies can erupt. The worst case can happen when a press release or a flyer is printed, an email and communication address is misprinted or erased, or a critical word is misspelled; a reporter might get the wrong information. A disaster might happen when an organization for you for which you are devoting your skills deny giving you credit. These issues must be anticipated before the plan and alternative solutions are found to overcome and rectify these issues.
In the article How to Develop a Communication Plan? The communication plan is a mouthpiece of the organization’s dreams which needs to be strategically drawn with eyes on minute details. It is best to prepare a plan three or four days before the schedule and evaluate it thoroughly. A well-documented plan will smooth the whole process and bring order to diversified activities that you might be performing.
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