The Wright Brothers Cycle Shop. Dayton, Ohio

How to develop a communications plan

A communications plan is an outline to direct communication efforts for an organization. It helps an organization think strategically about communication goals through four main parts: research, audiences, communication and evaluation. This is known as R.A.C.E. In addition to the primary components, other elements are important and include goals, objectives, background, calendar and budget.

For the best results in communication efforts, a comprehensive communications plan is essential. A communications plan is to communication efforts as a driver is to a school bus-it successfully drives communications outreach of an organization. Without a communications plan, efforts can be unsuccessful, inconclusive and haphazard.

The parts of the communications plan are specific and work together to build a plan. Each part is necessary for overall effectiveness:

  • Solid research is the basis for a communications plan. All the other components stem from research. Research helps determine:

    • characteristics of an organization
    • approach strategy
    • goals and objectives
    • target audiences
    • communication effectiveness of other organizations

    In addition, research can generate publicity when surveys are implemented.

  • In a communications plan, specific audiences within the general public are targeted to create and implement specific messages that appeal to the target audience. Messages that appeal to the general public are not as effective due to the diversity of people. Furthermore, target audiences help advance an organization’s goals.

    Determining Target Audiences Exercise

    Based on demographical information about your community, identify key target audiences you wish to attract.

    1. What are your top three choices for target audiences?
    2. Briefly explain why you chose each of these target audiences.
    3. Do these target audiences correspond with your congregation’s characteristics? Explain.
    4. What existing programs will each of these target audiences find attractive? Explain.
    5. What programs must be improved and/or implemented to help attract each of these audiences?
    6. How do you think your church members will welcome each of these target audiences?
    7. Additional thoughts/comments

    Print this exercise

  • The communication step is the implementation of the plan by using communication tools to reach defined audiences. Goals and objectives are achieved through the communication step.

  • Evaluation is the last step in the communications plan. It measures the success of the entire plan by assessing established goals and objectives. Surveys are a common way to evaluate a plan.

  • Goals are simply what an organization wants to achieve in a communication plan. Objectives are the specific, measurable guides to a communications plan.

  • To be attentive to deadlines and planning needs, a calendar to outline the important times of the plan is needed.

  • To understand the cost of the plan and to avoid overspending, a budget must be established. Typically, the main expense for the plan will be communication tools.

Resources

Sample communications plan

Presentation on creating a communications plan