A communication plan can mean everything in terms of your project’s success. Whether you’re promoting an event or organising an internal project, you want to develop a game plan to make sure you’re disseminating the correct information at the right time. So, let’s talk about how a comms plan can get you from where you are now, to where you want to be.
A successful plan is one that is clear about what it is trying to achieve, so start by being clear about your purpose. For example, if you were working on a communication plan for a conference, your purpose might be to gain new attendees and increase delegate numbers by 10%. This purpose should then shape your entire plan. Think about what information you are trying to get out there, and how that will help you hit your targets. Do you need a certain demographic to provide you with information for a survey, or do you need to promote an application deadline to your staff? Take some time to figure this one out. If you have a clear idea of your end goal, it’ll make the rest of the exercise run more smoothly.
Next, think about who this information is for. Who are your stakeholders? Do you have both external and internal stakeholders? Remember, you’ll have different audiences to cater for, and they should receive different information. Start by identifying all stakeholders you’ll need to contact throughout the project lifecycle. So, for a conference, this is likely to include:
The organising team to make sure we stick to our project plan and deadlines
Board members to pass on high-level information
Presenters to support them as they develop their sessions and make them aware of any deadlines
Previous delegates to encourage them to come back to our event
Registered delegates to inform them of the progress of the event and the next steps in their registration
New delegates we wish to recruit to spread more awareness of our conference and reach the target number
Exhibitors and sponsors who we’d like to partner with to reach a wider audience
Make sure you split them up into their own categories and identify what you’re trying to achieve by contacting them.
It’s time for the meatier part of our exercise. We need to think about what the content is. This is where we identify what information we are communicating. For our conference, we want to communicate:
Benefits of attending our event such as knowledge gained from sessions and opportunities to network
Deadlines for ticket sales, calls for proposals and session registration
General information on the location, social activities and travel information
Think back to your purpose. The more you break this down, the easier you’ll find it when constructing your plan.
Now we have the foundation of our plan, let’s talk about how we’re going to execute it. This will happen in few of stages. First, you’ll need to identify the voice you want to use in your communication. This should be set out in your brand guidelines. Make sure you adopt the right tone in your communications and follow the guidelines for your organisation. Next, think about what platforms you’ll be using to disseminate information. This includes the social media channels you’re using to contact different audiences and if you’ll use an emailing client such as Mailchimp for your mailing lists. Finally, you also need to think about where you’ll be drawing your resources from. For the example of the conference, we’d take information from the project plan (for deadlines), the conference website, trusted local tourism websites, guides on benefits of attending or presenting at conferences, and from previous presenters and delegates as by way of testimonials.
Think about how you’ll manage these different channels and how you can plan your content in advance. At Lucidity, we use an online application called Hootsuite to schedule updates in advance. That way, you can map out the main pillars in your project plan and manage all of your social media channels in one dashboard.
We’re nearly there! The last thing we need to do is set out the plan into a schedule. This stage is really important if you want to hit your targets. Using our example as an illustration, this is how we would approach our events schedule:
Set-out the main dates such as registration openings and deadlines
Input reminders leading up to those dates
Between those dates, add in regular updates with useful and engaging information
Plan in any campaigns relevant to the event that can increase engagement
It’s really important to stick to your timings. You want to make sure you’ve given ample time for your audience to take in that information and do something about it. Whether that’s drawing together a proposal for submission or registering for their sessions, people need to be given space to complete that task. Not everyone will see your update the first-time round, so make sure you schedule in plenty of useful reminders.
So that’s how we approach a communications plan! Remember that you need to find a way that is the most suitable for your needs; there is no ‘one size fits all’ for communications. And remember to schedule in regular reviews of your plan, so that you keep your information fresh and interesting!
If you need help developing a communications plan or improving one to increase engagement, get in touch with us. We’re passionate about creative communications and have a field of knowledge to help you meet your targets.