33+ Sample Strategic Communication Plan
What Is a Strategic Communication Plan?
A strategic communication plan is a business document and a written plan that outlines communication to team members on the organizational objectives. The document contains detailed information and strategies that help engage employees with various techniques to stimulate performance that leads to organizational success. The plan serves as the foundation for all communication and marketing activities. It also identifies the business’ priority communication goals and clients and outlines a structured framework for understanding and executing the different strategies. In organizing a long-term plan for programs, public education, and advocacy efforts, the company becomes proactive and strategic in its decisions. It also allows organizations to utilize resources more effectively by emphasizing positive synergies and shared opportunities to form lasting relationships through the programs and work areas. The main goal of the strategic communication plan is to connect with the target audience.
According to the book The Balanced Scorecard, the authors David Norton and Robert Kaplan present helpful information that 90 percent of organizations find it challenging to accomplish and perform strategies effectively. One of the factors they focus on as a significant contributor to the failure of executing techniques is the lack of strategic planning and constant communication internally and externally.
Components of a Strategic Communication Plan
A strategic communication plan is an essential document that guarantees business success in the long term. As the communication plan seeks to accomplish the short and long-term goals of the company, the plan must possess clear distinctions and sections to emphasize and describe the activities and objectives of a particular project. Below are essential elements when writing a strategic communication plan to get the company going smoothly.
Target Audience: Strategic communication plans directly affect a target audience or set of audiences. These audiences are often distinct and divided into primary, secondary, tertiary, and so on. Audiences are also likely to have varying degrees of experience with the company and expectations coming from working on the project. Each individual has different levels of knowledge about the subject, including various areas of priority and concerns. Potential audiences include senior leadership teams, senior vice presidents, project team members, subject matter experts, and key customers whenever possible. It is necessary to identify the target audience that is essential for the success of the project.Context: With a clear classification of the target audience an organization must communicate with, there must be a given context of the occurrence of communication. Identify the key events and relationships in the past, present, and future that show relevance and significance to the target audience in the strategic communication plan. The context of the document defines the world and environment of the audience, their recent experiences, and the possible expectations they want to achieve with the organization.Intended outcomes or objectives: Every strategic business communication plan specifies a set of purposes it intends to achieve, ranging from transfer of information, instruction, transformation, or persuasion, and in several cases, a combination. A technique to define possible outcomes is to consider what individuals or groups need to know or believe after a thorough communication process and their call to action or action plan afterward. After defining the purpose of creating the strategic plan, compose messages that resonate with the target audience in the present context. A good way to do this is by constructing a message pyramid. Start with a headline message and compose a list of reasons with support proof points and descriptions. The structure is a top to bottom visualization from the headline down to the more specific pieces of information and evidence that the target audience finds relevant to their situations, interests, and concerns.Key messages: The key messages or the core messages serve as the anchor and the main element of the strategic communication plan. The information that the target audience must recognize is a part of all communications. However, it is critical to note that not all of the messages in the communication plan refer to effective communication content. Instead, its main goal is to focus on providing techniques for consistent and effective communication through presentations, speaking informally to target audiences, and producing print materials. An example of core messages for significant changes includes customer voice, process voice, mission statement, vision statement, organizational strategy, areas of improvement, strategic goal improvements, and keeping balanced scorecards. Remember that each element must have a brief description, its relationship to others, and its significance.Implementation of communication strategy: The messages that the organization communicates determine the media or channel they employ. Techniques can range from intimate or personal messages through personal contact or impersonal, through mass emails for team conferences and team meetings. Each target audience responds in varying ways to the choice of media with the involvement of the context and the outcomes. As such, it is necessary to use media channels strategically, looking from the audience’s standpoint to communicate the message effectively and efficiently.Preferred messengers: The organization serves as the primary messenger of the strategic communication plan. Evaluate if the company functions as the best option to relay messages to the target audience. The principal consideration for selecting the ideal messenger is to gauge their credibility to transmit the message to the audience. Factors to consider include the status and power of the messenger since people have confidence when heading information from individuals of influence. Another factor to consider is expertise, as people prefer messengers that have sufficient knowledge and experience regarding the subject matter. Lastly, a strong and positive relationship with the audience immediately enhances the effectiveness and credibility of a messenger.Measurement criteria: In critical communication, consider a plan to measure the effectiveness of the strategic plan. Indicate situations or processes to achieve the outcomes and examples of its success together with its strategic purpose. It is also necessary to include the method of record-keeping to document various elements of the communication plan. Management can opt to gather feedback through periodical surveys and audience questionnaires to determine the effectiveness of media channels. The response must undergo data analysis for continuous improvement and adjustments.
How To Write a Strategic Communication Plan
Align the content towards the audience to build support and drive the changes and improvements that need to happen to leverage the company’s behavior towards its intended reputation. The strategic communication plan is essential for institutions, agencies, and businesses to look over accomplishments and reorganize for the coming year. It takes time and effort to create a strategic communication plan, especially for individuals who have no prior knowledge of it. Below is a helpful guide to writing a comprehensive and effective strategic communication plan for your organization.
1. Establish a Communication Audit
Begin your strategic communication plan by conducting comprehensive research and data analysis to gain an understanding of the budget and stocks. This allows you to identify the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and risks, and resources the company currently possesses. It also allows you to distinguish the audience’s needs. There are various ways to conduct a communication audit. One is through a SWOT analysis to identify elements to accomplish the initiatives and investments you have for each department.
2. Determine the Communication Goals and Objectives
After building the communication audit, align the company mission and values, stemming towards the source of the company’s direction. The principal goal is to get the target audiences to think, believe, and act towards supporting organizational goals. The communication objectives serve as a statement to deliver concrete facts and information for the audience to feel that they have to take action to achieve the identified outcomes.
3. Identify the Key Target Audiences and Develop Key Messages
As stated earlier, there are different classifications of audiences, and it is necessary to focus on the primary and secondary audiences. The first one refers to the individuals or groups that you want to influence to achieve the communication outcomes. The secondary audience represents persons or entities that can directly affect the primary audience. The step also allows you to consider how the audience views programs and activities the organization currently provides. Remember that different people receive different messages accordingly. Make sure that the messages you produce are simple, concise, catchy, yet informative. Deliver them with consistency and coherency to influence individuals to perform the company initiatives.
4. Develop a Strategy and Implementation Plan
Develop an effective strategy to get your message through the audience. If the goal serves as the destination, the plan serves as the comprehensive roadmap. Preparing a strategy helps plan and make the necessary decisions and actions when allocating resources. This step also allows you to build techniques to employ audience groups using relevant timelines and milestones to consider the plan a success. The strategy must be malleable and open to change, reflecting the vision, mission, goal, and objectives of the organization.
5. Develop a Planning Calendar
An essential step to implementing the strategic communication plan is to monitor whether the strategies you enforce work out within the timeline. It helps the company to stay on track with the different tactics they implement for a year. The planning calendar helps the organization and the management to identify effective strategies and which ones need revising and improvement.
6. Determine the Measurement Criteria
Remember that communication is not a one-sided process. Meaning, there must be a thorough assessment process from beginning to end for the company to identify which strategies are effective and those that need revisions. The review details the indicators to monitor and evaluate techniques and activities that resonate with the desired outcomes and objectives.
What are the three main strategic communication goals?
Strategic communication strategies focus on achieving three principal outcomes for the organization. The SMART goals the company must concentrate on consist of raising awareness, changing attitudes, and motivating or influencing people to take action.
What are the types of communication strategies?
There are seven communication strategies present in various industries and businesses. The nomination strategy describes a specific subject clearly and truthfully with relevance. Repair overcomes communication breakdown to deliver comprehensive messages. Termination is a strategy that uses verbal and nonverbal cues to end conversations. Restriction refers to any limitation that a speaker possesses, including restrains in relaying information. Turn-taking is the idea of giving all speakers a chance to communicate their thoughts and ideas. Topic control stresses procedures to ensure the smooth development of discussions and other methods of communication. Topic shifting pertains to the ability to switch between one topic to another.
What is the purpose of a strategic communications plan?
The purpose of creating a strategic communications plan is to integrate a company’s program and advocacy efforts to specific individuals or groups of people. Through strategic planning of communication, the company is in a position to be more proactive. It also allows the organization to utilize materials and resources more effectively and strategically.
Many companies fail at building a strong relationship and communication with their target audience, resulting in miscommunication and misinformation. To counter this, organizations must establish comprehensive strategic communication plans that identify the target audience, have SMART goals and objectives, possess a key messenger and communication strategy, and a process of measuring the effectiveness of proposed plans. Start creating a strategic communication plan for your company by downloading the available samples above for your convenience.