Follow These Eight Steps to Develop Your Corporate Communications Plan

Your company needs a corporate communications plan to help guarantee the success of your overall business plan. And the best time to develop a communications plan is during your annual budgeting or organizational planning process.

“Communications” includes all written, spoken and electronic interactions between you and audiences inside and outside your organization.

A plan will help you to organize and prioritize the communication tools and initiatives you use to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time. It will help you to keep your stakeholders informed and maintain their buy-in and support for your communications endeavors. It will solidify

Your choice of communications methods, initiatives and materials
What each communication program component must achieve
Your choice of key audiences
Timetables, tools and budgets
How you measure and evaluate program results

From a communications executive’s perspective, in addition to the peace of mind it brings, such a plan will help you to
Establish priorities,
Determine day-to-day activities
Achieve order and control
Gain CEO and staff support
Protect against last-minute demands

Follow these eight steps to develop an effective corporate communications plan:
1. Define your goals and desired results.

What is your strategic purpose with regard to corporate communications?
What’s the tie-in to your organization’s business plan?

2. Conduct an audit to determine and evaluate your current communications materials and initiatives.
You must determine
What communications initiatives each department is using
What each initiative is designed to achieve
Each initiative’s effectiveness

3. Define your overall communications objectives, such as reinforcing;
Customer service
Customer loyalty
Increased sales
Employee morale and teamwork
Employee retention and recruitment
Media relations
A positive corporate image and reputation
Crisis control

4. Determine which audiences you want to influence, such as
Current and prospective customers
Suppliers
Current and prospective employees
Federal, state and local legislators
Wall Street
The media

5. Decide which tools you can use — and afford — to achieve your goals and get your points across. Your tools can include:
Print publications
Online communications
Manuals
Meeting and conference materials
Media and public relations materials
Marketing and sales materials
Legal and legislative documents
Employee and customer newsletters
Corporate identity materials — logos, print and packaging,
Quarterly and annual reports
Signage
Presentations
Website content
Blogs
Internet initiatives

6. Estimate the cost of each initiative, then establish a budget.
7. Establish your timetable.
8. Include methods in your plan that you can use to measure and evaluate results periodically, and to evaluate the program’s overall results at year’s end.

A written communications plan is as much a defense against chaos, confusion and wasted energy as it is a business priority.
Once in place, your plan will establish priorities, fend off last-minute and inappropriate demands and bring a semblance of order to a hectic job.

Brian R. Salisbury, a writer and a public relations and communications consultant, combines a wealth of communications know-how with an engaging writing style to help his clients shape the most effective messages and deliver them with the greatest impact where they count most. Visit Brian’s website at http://www.BriansQuill.com and subscribe to his free public relations newsletter and receive his free report “Ten Key Components of a Successful Public Relations Program.” Or send him an email at BrianSalisbury@BriansQuill.com.

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