How to Develop
a Communications Plan
What is a communication plan? When should it be developed? Where does the information in the plan come from? How do you write one, and why should you bother?
Overworked and underfunded communicators (Are there any other kind?) have a right to ask whether the work involved in developing a plan is worth it. The answer is yes because a written communication plan will
• give your day-to-day work a focus,
• help you set priorities,
• provide you with a sense of order and control,
• help get the chief staff executive and staff to support your program,
• protect you against last-minute, seat-of-the-pants demands from staff and members, and
• prevent you ...view middle of the document...
When to Develop the Plan
The best time to develop your plan is in conjunction with your annual budgeting or organizational planning process.
Where to Get Information
Grist for the plan generally comes from five sources:
1. your association mission statement,
2. a communication audit,
3. membership surveys and focus groups,
4. committee and leadership input, and
5. discussions with other staff and departments.
How to Develop the Plan
Take the following steps to develop an effective communication plan:
Conduct a research-communication audit. Evaluate your current communications. Some associations hire firms to do this, but the price for the objectivity of an outside auditor can be high. To conduct your own audit, find out
• what every staff person is doing in the way of communication,
• what each communication activity is designed to achieve, and
• how effective each activity is.
To get the answers you need,
• brainstorm with communication staff,
• talk to other departments,
• interview the chief staff executive,
• interview the board,
• talk to communication committee members,
• survey the membership,
• host focus groups, and
• query nonmembers.
Define objectives. Armed with information from your audit, define your overall communication objectives-the results you want to achieve. These might include
• excellent service to members,
• member loyalty,
• centralization of the communication effort,
• increased employee teamwork,
• improved product delivery,
• visibility for the association and the industry or profession it represents, and
• influence on government, media, consumers, and other audiences.
Define audiences. List all the audiences that your association might contact, attempt to influence, or serve. Included on your list may be
• related associations;