Why Your Business Needs
a Communication Plan


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A communication plan is an immensely helpful tool for any organization. In fact, it’s more than useful — it’s necessary for any business or nonprofit wanting to regularly communicate with its audience. The old adage “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” by Ben Franklin comes to mind here. Successful business communication starts with a communication plan.

communication plan by mr. ben frankin

Caption: Take note from Ben Franklin’s book and plan your communications strategy ahead of time.

What is a Communication Plan?

A communication plan is the course of action a business or organization takes to share news and relevant information with their audience. Depending on how big the organization is and how many different items of interest they want to share, a communication plan can have multiple layers and involve a number of delivery methods and/or channels.

Bordio has a great definition for a communication plan as well: “a guideline on how, when, and to whom specifically to share ongoing project updates, report issues, raise concerns and share any other information that might be of interest to stakeholders.”

Caption: A communication plan helps you decide what to share, when, how, and to whom.

The Basic Components of a Communication Plan

We can boil the basics of any communication plan down to three C’s: cadence, content themes, and channels. Let’s dive into each component so you understand the steps of making your own communication plan.

Cadence: Month to Month or Quarterly

A communication plan can take significant time to think through and design — e.g., what you want to say, when, and how — which is why it’s good to decide how often you’ll sit down with your team to do the actual plotting and planning.

The most typical (and useful) rhythms are month to month and quarterly. Depending on the current needs of your organization, one option might be better than the other. Month to month calls for more regular meetings, but it can also allow you to make adjustments in a quicker timeframe. Quarterly planning allows you to set the communication course for three months at a time. Knowing when and how you’ll be sharing news and updates for 12 weeks at a time can help the rest of your team plan and work to meet all the necessary deadlines.

No matter what cadence you pick for communication planning, make sure you schedule your next planning session well in advance. It can be quite hectic when you have to make up your communication plan in real time; things will undoubtedly fall through the cracks. Do yourself a favor and put time on the calendar to sit down and plan what’s coming next with a clear, unhurried mind.

Caption: A good communication plan takes some time and strategic thinking.

Content Themes: What are you communicating?

As mentioned earlier, depending on the size of your organization, you may have a multi-layered communication plan with various communication platforms sharing different pieces of information week to week, month to month, etc.

As an example, here’s a list of the regular communications I oversaw in a past job:

  • Weekly email from CEO to the organization’s entire email list
  • Multiple (2-3 per platform) social media posts per week
  • Weekly push notifications on the organization’s app
  • Weekly scripts for announcements at in-person meetings
  • Weekly printed news and announcements to be posted online and handed out at in-person meetings
  • Monthly printed newsletter
  • Event emails (as needed)

The organization used a number of communication methods to share news, upcoming events and opportunities for people to get involved and support. These communication methods were deployed on weekly and monthly schedules.

Deciding what you communicate comes down to answering these questions: What do I want my audience to know? How do I want them to interact with my organization? What next steps do I want them to take?

Channels: How You Will Share Your Message?

Once you’ve figured out what you want to communicate, it’s time to decide how you’ll communicate it. It may be helpful to first make a list of the ways you’re currently communicating with your audience. Think about what’s already in place — maybe you have an Instagram account and an email list? You could begin with posting a specific type of content in your Instagram stories on a certain day of the week and sending an email on a different day of the week that covers another topic you want shared.

Examples of communication channels that could be included in your communication plan:

  • Emails
  • Newsletters (printed or digital)
  • Website
  • Blog
  • Social media
  • Text messages
  • Announcements at in-person events
  • Postcard (or another direct mail piece)
  • Press release
  • Signage

You can always add to your methods of communication. An agency may be a great source for figuring out what will work best with your target audience—they’ll likely have a lot of data on the most impactful communication methods as well as specific platforms to use. Knowing how your audience prefers to receive information can make a big impact on the success of your communication plan.

Three Benefits of a Communication Plan

In case you’re not already sold on the importance a communication plan, let’s talk quickly about three benefits a communication plan provides.

  • Keeps you organized.

A great communication plan is like a steady train: 1) it makes multiple stops to deliver lots of goods; 2) once it gets going, it barrels down the track; and 3) if it stops, it takes more effort to get it moving again. A communication plan will help you stay on track with all the news and updates you need to share.

Photo: train

Caption: A great communication plan keeps an organization moving ahead, like a train on the tracks

  • Allows you to plan ahead.

In the life of any organization, there will be moments that you can’t plan for. While those moments may call for crisis communication, 95% of your communications can be planned ahead of time. Making a plan will help you lay out the events and news of the next month (or next several moments) and strategically plot out when and how you’d like to share it.

  • Helps you stay true to your brand.

When you have a plan for how and when you communicate your news, you also gain the time and space to create content that accurately reflects your brand. What would best reflect your company’s vision and core values? A communication plan will help you make those decisions and then share your true self with your audience.

Communication Planning with J.O. Agency

You have a message worth sharing and we want to put our marketing mojo to good use on your behalf! See our past work (including this communication plan for Fort Worth Housing Solutions) and then reach out to us at hello@joagency.com to talk about how we can help you plan your communications.

Looking for more on the topic of communication? Check out our recent blog on effective business communication here.

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