A communication plan is key to developing an effective and consistent messaging strategy.
Having a communication plan template helps you develop and disseminate consistent messages regardless of the situation — from a new product launch to a PR crisis. It also helps guide your PR or communication team in the process of setting measurable goals for your strategy, profiling your target audience, and creating and successfully disseminating/delivering your message.
This makes a communication plan an excellent tool for your team to prepare them to create effective messages and communicate properly in any given situation.
And, if the idea of creating a communication plan scares you, don’t worry; you can use a pre-designed communication plan template to start you off.
This guide will help you develop your own creative communication plan template to support your communication efforts in different situations, plus give you several templates that you can use today, including a(n):
- Strategy development and deployment plan template
- Situational or risk management communication plan template
- Digital adoption platform (DAP) implementation communication plan template
- External FAQ communication plan template
- Pre-crisis communication checklist template
- Marketing communication plan template
- Customer onboarding: LinkedIn Sales Navigator Plan
- Brand campaign communication plan template
What is a communication plan?
A communication plan is a document that provides a road map for effectively delivering a business (organization) message or information to a particular target audience.
It identifies the messages/information you need to pass/promote, to whom the message targets, and the channel(s) of communication.
Communications plans can be used in different settings, such as:
- In times of crisis,
- When pitching new initiatives (e.g. to stakeholders),
- When launching new products,
- And more.
What is a communication plan template
A Communications Plan template is a pre-designed communication plan. It describes how you will communicate a message, the right message, to the right people (stakeholders), at the right time and in the right channel.
It’s a plan that sets the information, communications goals, audience (stakeholders), strategies, activities, and timeframes.
For example, you may have a communication plan template for your products’ launch. The template will clarify the product, the purpose of a product launch (service or initiative), the official messages you want to deliver, the intended audience(s), and the communication channel.
A communication plan template is an essential part of any businesses’ success and should be updated regularly.
What makes a good communication plan template?
There is no good or bad communication plan template because businesses have different communications and target audiences.
But a management communication plan template should include certain parts of good communication:
- Objective(s) or purpose.
- Communication message and message structure.
- Audience (target).
- Key communication channels.
- Communication frequency.
- Clear roles and responsibilities for each team member and (or) stakeholder.
An effective communication plan will ensure that the message targets the right audience through the right channels to meet the organization’s goals.
The benefits of a communication plan [& template]
Every organization needs to have a clear and concise communication plan or a template communication ready for when and if a need arises. Why?
- It provides a template for strategic, internal, or external communication.
- It defines the business processes communication plan.
- It provides communication-specific channels to reach the target audience and stakeholders.
- It improves stakeholder and client management. If businesses don't have a communication plan, they'll be unprepared when disaster strikes.
- It encourages communicating the right message to people in every situation.
- Less duplicative information sharing.
Overall, a communication plan template creates a positive brand image for staff and external stakeholders.
For example, a communication plan can help a business during a crisis if a previous marketing message or business decision damages its customer reputation.
In this article we've created simple and more in depth communication plan templates that you can use to meet your needs.
We've built these templates using Scribe, and its newest feature Pages.
Scribe is a process documentation tool that turns any workflow into a step-by-step guide, in seconds. Each guide will automatically have text and annotated screenshots, so you never have to manually create another guide again.
Here's how it works.
And with Scribe Pages, you can combine Scribes with images, video and more to create beautiful process docs and templates, like the ones you'll see in this article!
Types of communications [with examples & templates for each]
Organization communication can be external or internal.
Internal communication is the process by which messages/information flow through an organization from top management to staff and between teams or staff members.
Internal information can be updates, news, campaign, or resources dispersed to staff and management to share the company’s policies, purpose, vision, and more.
It’s mostly done by the HR and PR departments or any other responsible department in the company.
Examples of internal communication plan a business can create and share are:
- Internal memo
- Change management communication
- Peer-to-peer communication
- New hire communication
- New DAP implementation communication
- SOP creation templates
- Marketing Campaign communication
- Policy change communication
- Internal crisis communication
- Project management SOPs or communication plan
- And more.
In an organization, external communication involves communicating with audiences/stakeholders outside the business, including customers, shareholders, clients, investors, the public, and more.
It aims to connect your business with a larger audience — the public — or a particular public audience like shareholders, customers or other businesses.
Businesses using external communication to develop brand purpose and awareness to the public, it can help improve the public image of the company.
Examples of external communication tools are:
- Press release (such a crisis communication press release)
- Website content
- Blogs or articles
- Social media plans or SOPS
- Ad campaigns
- Client support (and documents like FAQ Page, Standard operating procedures (SOPs) temlates, user manual, etc)
- And more
External communication moves you closer to the external audience and helps you connect and engage them in the subject topic.
Sample communication plan templates you can use today
Communication plans can be for different situations (like we’ve said above). Having the right template for each type of communication can boost your communication efforts and make them effective.
A basic communication plan or template should include an analysis of the audience/stakeholders you'd respond to and the conversation procedures. This includes a goal, time frame, objectives, message, and delivery channel among others.
Communication plan templates can get tricky, but having an effective one will prove itself with its longevity.
Here are sample communication plan templates you can adopt.
1. Strategy development & deployment communication plan template
Overall, a strategy development and deployment communication plan is a useful tool for organizations to ensure that stakeholders are informed and engaged throughout the strategy development and deployment process.
It's also important to review the communication plan regularly to evaluate the effectiveness of the chosen methods and adjust them if needed.
A strategy development and deployment communication plan usually focuses on the following topics:
This is an internal communication plan template for strategy development and deployment to be shared only with the relevant team members.
2. Situational or risk management communication plan template
Effective communication is crucial in managing a crisis or incident. A communication plan helps organization's effectively communicate with stakeholders in a timely and coordinated manner. It's also important to mention that this plan should be aligned with overall organizational risk management and crisis management plans, and it should be tested and exercised regularly as a part of risk management and crisis management strategy.
A situation or risk management communication plan can be internal or external depending on the risk you're addressing. The topics can look like this:
This situational or risk management communication template provides a structure for creating a situational or risk management communication plan that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the organization. The plan should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure it is ready to be implemented when needed.
3. Digital adoption platform (DAP) implementation communication plan
Implementing a digital adoption platform (DAP) can be technical. While the DAP provider like Scribe may provide a user manual, most of them are too general.
A Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) is a software solution that helps users adopt and effectively use new digital tools and technologies. Here's a sample template for a DAP implementation communication plan
If you want your company-specific adoption method, you can create it on your own using software like Scribe.
For instance, this communication plan can help you adopt Scribe to your team: How to create step-by-step guides with Scribe guide to start you off.
4. External FAQ communication plan template
Here's a template for an FAQ Page that can get you started with building your external FAQ communicatins.
If you'd like to build a more in-depth plan to support your external FAQ, learn how to create an FAQ page in our article.
5. Pre-crisis communication checklist
Like a crisis/risk communication tool, a pre-crisis or risk communication checklist template can be internal or external. But it’s mostly internal for the organization members to understand how to address a crisis before it occurs.
The components of a pre crisis communication checklist are:
If you're looking for more detail, here's an in-depth pre-crisis checklist template that you can use with your team.
6. Marketing communication plan template
A marketing communication plan has 4 sections for your key messaging: marketing goal and objectives, SWOT analysis, tactics, channels and timeline.
Here’s a more in-depth marketing communication plan template for a product:
Customer Onboarding: LinkedIn Sales Navigator Plan
This Scribe Page is a customer onboarding: LinkedIn Sales Navigator template for new hires in a company:
8. Brand campaign communication plan template
A brand campaign communication plan template should include information on the target audience, the overall goals of the campaign, and the key messaging that will be used.
The image above or the below brand campaign communication plan template is a good starting point for creating a comprehensive communication plan for a brand campaign.
However, keep in mind that each campaign will have different goals, channels, and strategies. So, you may need to adjust this template to fit your specific needs.
And also, don't forget to evaluate the results of the campaign and make necessary adjustments for the next campaign.
How to create a communications plan template
Whether you are writing a marketing communication plan, a crisis communication plan, or a strategic communication template, use the following steps to guide you.
1. Audit of your current communications materials.
First, conduct a situational analysis or business process audit.
Before you jump to writing a communication plan or template, ask yourself: “What’s your current communication strategy?”
This will help you decide where the plan/template you want to create will fit in the business.
A situational analysis will also allow you to identify any content gaps or problem areas (e.g. missing marketing materials or risk areas) that need to be incorporated in the new/updated plan.
For example, when you want to evaluate your current marketing communication plan, here’s what to evaluate:
- Communication channels: List all channels you use to communicate internally or externally.
- Communication materials/products. Make an inventory of all your marketing material (flyers, social media graphics, press releases, brochures, branding guidelines (color, fonts, logos, etc.).
- Communication style: Describe your communication style and tone of voice for the particular marketing campaign.
- Results and performance: List and describe the KPIs you’ll measure and how you’ll measure them, including their metrics.
There are different ways to gather all this relevant information:
- Use the analytics you have for each communication channel
- Send out surveys to your customers, stakeholders, or partners
- Hold in-person meetings with your project team.
- Perform a SWOT analysis of your internal and external communication channels.
This information will give you confidence in where you are and help you set up your communication plan goals and objectives.
2. Set SMART goals & objectives
You need to set clear SMART goals and objectives for your communications plan based on your audit’s results.
What do you want to achieve with this communication plan template? Think of what results/outcomes your communication plan should achieve for your business.
These will become your goal(s), and they should be SMART:
- Specific: SPecify is very important. Be clear about who you want to communicate with and why.
- Measurable: What metrics will you expect to achieve? How will you measure your progress?
- Achievable: Your goals need to be realistic.
- Relevant. Ensure that the objectives go hand in hand with the communication or various departments’ objectives.
- Time-bound: When? The goals need to have clearly defined deadlines.
It’s easier to get buy-in (staff, shareholders, or executives) if you can prove how your communication plan contributes to their success in the organization.
3. Identify & profile your audience
Who does the communication plan target, or who is it for? Good communication starts with knowing your audience.
For example, if a crisis communication plan is for the business's stakeholders, which one(s) are they? Stakeholder examples include staff, customers, investors, government, media outlets, etc.
Understanding the communication plan’s target audience and their characteristics, needs, profiles, etc., is key to crafting an effective message. You’ll also start figuring out how to deliver the message successfully.
The audience could be internal (within your organization) or external (shareholders, customers, the general public, etc.).
Also, create simple audience personas to help you profile and understand them. This data can be who they are, their age, profession, gender, challenges, etc.
If the audience is your staff, you may want to create an updated internal document for employees to refer to and a reference contact information if they have follow-up questions.
4. Write the communication plan outline
Now, you can start writing your plan with your audience in mind. This is called a general outline.
What message do you want to share to who, through which channel, and by or before when?
You may want to structure your general outline communications plan like this:
- Purpose: what’re this communications plan for?
- Escalation Framework: this includes 'first line of defense' and/or ‘response team'
- Roles and responsibilities: what will each team member or employee do? What are they responsible for?
- Do's and Don'ts
- How will we maintain an effective response plan?
This will give you a rough idea of what goes where in the successive steps.
5. Determine the channel(s) to deliver your messages
With your audience and outline in mind, it’s time to decide on the channel to pass the message.
Ask yourself, “Where does your audience(s) spend most of their time?”
The channels you select depend on your goals, message, and audience.
It’s apparent that you won’t be able to reach all your audience in one media channel or capture their attention with one content type. But the word “most” captures most of your audience, which is a good thing.
For instance, if the communications plan template is for internal staff, you might send it out in a company-wide email, use in-person team meetings, or pin it on the notice board.
If you’re targeting costumes, your main communication channels may include:
- Press releases
- Email marketing,
- Social media
- Content marketing,
- Influencer marketing,
... and more. Consider the most effective media channel(s) to use to communicate.
6. Assign roles to team members
Next, decide which team members are responsible for creating or delivering the message and include them in the communication plan.
For example, in a crisis communication plan, you need to assign your PR team to prepare press releases and keep in touch with journalists.
Make sure you add a key team member along with their roles. For example, if it is the direct PR or just the PR manager responsible for the press release.
This will ensure that each team member understands their position and what’s required of them.
7. Create a timeline
Your next step is to estimate a timeline for publishing or how long each step/strategy in the plan should take.
Dates and timelines improve how you communicate. They also ensure team members don’t lag behind when an action should have occurred.
Estimating the timeline will also help you in allocating he budget and resources for each step/strategy for effective results.
For example, if you're writing a content marketing plan and you have only one content writer, publishing a blog a day would be ineffective.
A good place to create a timeline is to use a Gantt Chart, where you’ll map out each step and its specific objectives in one timeline.
8. Monitor & evaluate your communication plan template
Constantly monitor and track the results of your communication to help you understand whether you’re achieving the set goals.
Measure the results and determine successes and areas for improvement.
You can use the KPIs and metrics to tell you where you stand.
Conclusion: Create your own communications plan template with Scribe Pages
A successful communication plan template will get your message delivered to the right audience effectively, in time, and through the right channel. But first, you need to create one.
While these steps can help you create an effective communication plan template, you can use technology to make the process improvement easier. This is where communication plan creation software like Scribe comes in.
Scribe allows you to automate your process documentation and how-to guides with screenshots, links, and in-depth instructions — all in minutes!
Try Scribe to make your communication plan template quick and easy!