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Internal Comms

How To Create a Successful Communications Strategy + Communication Plan Template

Barry Nyhan

Senior Demand Gen & Marketing Ops

29 Feb 2024

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Great communication is the lifeblood of any successful business, but great communication doesn’t happen on its own. To reach your communication goals and make teamwork and transparency two of your company’s superpowers, you need an effective communication plan.

A communication plan is a strategic document that outlines the key messages, communication channels, and specific goals for business communication. It’s a vital part of any team or project’s success.

If you want to develop a good communication plan that will empower clear communication and help you reach your business objectives, you’re in the right place. 

Here is everything you need to know about creating a successful communications strategy, plus four free communication plan templates to help you get started!


Step-by-step guide for creating a communication plan

Communication efforts are a lot more effective when they’re based on a clear, strategic plan. Here are the steps you can follow to create a defined plan for reaching your company’s communication objectives.

Step 1. Set clear objectives

What do you want to achieve with your internal communications? It’s a good idea to start with an overarching objective for the plan. This will provide a framework for the detailed plan. 

For some businesses, the main objective could be to improve the employee experience. Or with the shift towards remote working and distributed teams, it might be promoting a cohesive company culture.   

Try to keep it simple. Too many objectives and you run the risk of diluting your purpose. Instead, to maximize your chances of success, focus on a couple of complementary primary objectives. And remember, your priorities will change over time. Next year’s internal communications plan will no doubt have different goals.  

Do make sure that your objectives are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timebound). And use your business goals and KPIs as the starting point. That way, your internal communication plan will be closely aligned to corporate goals and business objectives.   


Step 2. Identify the audience

Even within a small company, there will be several internal audiences. Your workforce is made up of different groups of employees with various jobs, responsibilities, communication preferences, and information needs.  

Once you have identified your internal audiences, then consider their likes, dislikes, and communication preferences. 

For example, younger generations tend to prefer social communication platforms. By contrast, older workers usually favor face-to-face communication. Sales personnel out on the road will require mobile-enabled platforms, while HQ staff are likely to be using desktop computers. 

Having a better understanding of your audience will help you to tailor your internal communications more effectively.


Step 3. Creating your internal comms messaging

What are the key messages you want to get across? To help with your messaging, think about your target audience. Try to answer the what’s in it for me question that will be in the back of their minds. Consider using facts, data, or stories to support your communication and bring it to life for the audience.

There are several techniques you can use to help. Some companies undertake a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Many find it a useful framework for developing detailed goals and objectives for the plan’s messages.

Others prefer the 5Ws and an H tool. This technique involves asking a series of questions to inform the message creation process: what, why, where, when, how, and who.

These tools are useful in providing the right context. And they will help you craft messages that are relevant for your audience.

Try to keep your messages simple and concise, so everyone will easily understand them.


Step 4. Method strategy – deciding on the appropriate communications channels

The internal communications plan needs to be relevant to everyone in your organization. Think about your target audience and the key messages, then identify the best channels for getting the message across.

It’s a good idea to have a wide range of communications channels to reach as many employees as possible. Here are some possibilities:

  • Employee communication platform
  • Blogs and vlogs
  • Podcasts
  • Face-to-face meetings and seminars
  • Social media
  • Employee communications app
  • Social intranet
  • Digital screen
  • Noticeboards
  • Printed newsletters, flyers, and brochures.

Before making your final selection, why not ask staff for their views. A snap poll or employee pulse survey can provide some hard data to back up your choices.



Step 5. Test, test, test

It’s a good idea to test out the objectives and targets with staff first before you finalize the plan. Use this step to experiment with different ideas so that you get it right.

The best way to do this is to do a test run. Use a small sample of employees and gauge the response. Are the channels you selected the right ones? Is the language you used accessible? Does the message resonate with workers?

Record your results and use the data to scale up on the most successful ideas in the final communications strategy.


Step 6. Measure the success of your internal communications strategy

This final step is one of the most important. Otherwise, how will you know if your plan is successful. Use a range of metrics to determine success. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Reach – measure the number of clicks, downloads, attendees, or click-through rates
  • Questionnaires and surveys – to assess how employees think and feel about your communications
  • Feedback from meetings and events
  • Employee retention rates
  • Staff reviews on sites like Glassdoor or Indeed.

Review progress regularly. When an objective is achieved, take the time to discuss any lessons learned or improvements that could be made next time.

The internal communications plan is a living document. Priorities, methods, and messages will evolve over time in light of experience, changing technology and markets.

Incorporate review mechanisms in your planning to ensure you always strive for continuous improvement.

Types of communication plans

Just like there are a variety of communication methods, there are also a variety of communication plans that companies can create and follow. Here are a few of the more common types of communication plans, as well as free templates that you can use for each of them.


Strategic communication plan

A strategic communication plan focuses on how you can align your communication strategy with the company’s overall goals and strategies. 

For example, if your goal is to increase customer satisfaction, your strategic communication plan might show how effective communication plays a role in keeping customers happy. Then it could outline the communication strategies that would help you excel at this.

The contents of a strategic communication plan heavily depend on the goals your organization is trying to accomplish. But there are a few key areas that these plans tend to focus on, such as stakeholder engagement, message alignment, and the long-term vision of the company’s communication strategies.


Business communication plan

A business communication plan is a broad-ranging plan that covers all of the considerations for internal and external business communications. These are the communication activities that your customers don’t see, but they are still a vital part of running an efficient, productive business.

Key considerations in a business communication plan include things like internal team communication, client relations, and business partnerships. In each of these areas, maintaining clear and effective communication is vital. 

It helps ensure that everyone is aligned toward common goals, prevents mishaps and misunderstandings, and allows employees to be more productive. A business communication plan can help ensure that your internal and external communication strategies live up to these objectives.


Marketing communication plan

When it comes to marketing your brand’s products and services, your messaging is key. So you should craft every piece of marketing material – from your blog posts to your emails to your PPC ads – with optimized messaging in mind.

A marketing communication plan covers areas like target audience analysis, appropriate channels, and the marketing strategy behind your messaging. This helps you create and optimize marketing materials that will resonate with your audience.

 Plus, it can serve as a handy guide that streamlines all of your marketing and customer engagement efforts.


Crisis communication plan

Communication is always important, but it’s especially important when a data breach, reputation damage, or any number of other potentially harmful events strikes. In the event of a crisis, you need an action plan for efficiently communicating relevant information to employees, key stakeholders, and customers.

A crisis communication plan is an essential part of the roadmap for dealing with such events. It covers considerations like who comprises the crisis response teams and the communication channels you will use in the event of a crisis. It also defines how you intend to control your brand’s external messaging to limit damage to your reputation. 

Try a Workvivo communication plan template today

Great communication starts with a great plan. From marketing to internal communications to crisis response, communication plans can help you develop effective strategies for all types of communication.

Communication plans almost always prove worth the time and effort they take to create – and with the right communication plan templates, they don't take much time at all!

To help our clients supercharge their communication strategies, we’ve put together some detailed, well-researched communication plan examples and templates. Even better – they’re free to download and use!

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