The real purpose of communication in any business organisation or community is to keep everyone in the loop. Communication transmits information and ideas and converts them into actions. For any corporate or community-based organisation, effective communication means conveying the true nature of an organisation’s work culture as well as future commitments and accomplishments.
Effective and transparent communication takes multiple forms to send an intended message and accomplish its purpose:
- Communication within the organisation (managers, leaders, employees, business partners, etc.)
- News stories in broadcast as well as print media
- Word of mouth
- Press conferences and press releases
- Brochures, hoardings, posters, etc.
- Organisational events, promotional events, summits, etc.
- Presentations to other corporate or community organisations
What a Communication Plan Really Is?
A solid communication plan is a channel many organisations, from large companies to small project teams, use to follow the fulfilment of common goals. Goals can be both short and long-term, and target audience can be small or extended. Based on this, the structure of a communication plan can vary to a great extent.
A communication plan typically involves a certain message or information that needs to be delivered. Project managers and corporate leaders spend around 90% of their work time communicating with different stakeholders as it is critical to deliver certain information to the right people at the right time.
In the corporate world, project managers are responsible for guiding multiple aspects associated with their projects. Creating a communication plan is one of these important aspects. Based on the project goals, frequency and the key messages that are being articulated, communication plan varies greatly. Typical characteristics of a communication plan can be narrated as per following:
- It enables organisations to guide and target their communication accurately. Moreover, it provides a structure to understand which people are a priority to reach out to and how to do so.
- As communication plan can be both short-term and long-term, it lets organisations create a detailed plan for rebranding or refining their image over time.
- It assists in making communication efforts more effective, impactful, and long-lasting.
- It saves a great deal of time for organisations. The more effort organisations put in creating an accurate plan, the more time they will be able to save.
How to Construct a Comprehensive Communication Plan?
1) Defining the Real Purpose
Regular and timely communication enables all employees to remain updated with the latest developments and instructions, and it leads to enhanced productivity. If employees are kept in the loop about project developments and its current status, then they will get more clarity about their roles and feel more comfortable in fulfilling their duties.
A robust communication plan is intended to guide team members to its desired outcome. Without timely and proper communication with organisation’s stakeholders, project managers may find it challenging to achieve expected milestones.
2) Defining Intended Audience
Communication message varies from one target audience to another as each demands a unique communication channel and approach for effective message delivery which is why defining the target audience can pose a certain challenge.
Based on the characteristics of your target audience, an organisation has to decide on the language, mood, design, and content of the intended message. With respect to the mood of your message, the organisation needs to decide which emotions they want to appeal to.
4) Determining Required Resources
After finalising intended message, organisations face the task of analysing resources required for a plan. They need to analyse whether they have an adequate human and financial capital to pull off the desired communication plan. Even if they have all the required resources, they need to determine the chances of success and failure of the plan. When it comes to spending money, it is wise to double-check the resource statistics before proceeding.
5) Determining Emergencies and Obstacles
During execution phase of the communication plan, an organisation must be prepared for expected as well as unexpected challenges, issues, or emergencies. Even a small mistake can disrupt the whole planning. For instance, a missing email address or phone number in client correspondences, press release being sent to wrong email address, spelling mistake in promotional flyers, banners, etc. Therefore, it’s wise to determine possible challenges and prepare accordingly.
6) The Final Step – Making an Action Plan
The final step involves gathering all information and transforming it into an action plan. Even after you’ve started acting on your communication plan, continually evaluate its impact and outcomes. Evaluation enables you to regularly improve your plan and to direct it in the desired way.
The delicate part of communication is estimating the right amount: overdoing it will complicate your life as a project manager and generate low added value while poor communication can have dire consequences.
Define your communication plan at the beginning based on your experience and the needs of the project, then discuss it with team and stakeholders. After that, you should periodically verify if the communication is on the expected level.
Finally, a warning: at times (especially during crisis situations) there is a request for more information. Keep it realistic! Handling daily feedback for one week is achievable, but not for five months. It simply doesn’t make sense and would generate an enormous amount of work. Same goes for meetings, calls, planning. Keep in mind that other people are involved, so make sure you can handle the amount of the additional information you’ve asked for.