Communications professionals are certainly not the only individuals called on to create and use communications plans. Myriad people outside this profession rely on effective planning to maximise the impact of an activity or objective they want to communicate.
I grew up on a relatively large sheep and beef farm. It would be easy to pooh-pooh the communications needs of a farmer. But just think about it: what if shearing season had come around and my father wasn’t prepared?
What if Dad had failed to communicate his needs to his audience (shearing contractor, wool buyer, shepherd, and associated trade staff)? What if his stakeholders (family members relying on the success of this project) felt misinformed or, worse still, completely uninformed? And how was he to know the whole project had been a success? (Money in the bank was not the only positive outcome he and the family were hoping for.) Dad had to develop a means of measuring the success of the project in relation to the needs and expectations of his audience and stakeholders.
My father didn’t literally sit down before the shearing season and draw up a communications plan. But the processes he undertook in the lead-up to the busiest (and most valuable) time of the farming year had all the hallmarks of such a plan. And good planning is linked to clear thinking.
Dad knew his end goal and he knew who to contact (and by what means) to get there. He was aware of the importance of delivering his messages at the right time to ensure the ‘project’ progressed without any holdups. Dad also knew how to anticipate where communications could break down, and therefore to factor in risk before the season started.
Communications planning is one of the least understood areas of business writing. The secret to success is powerful communications planning. A communications plan will get your messages heard by the people you need to reach, and will help your organisation to achieve its objectives. A good communications plan will also improve your relationships with those whose support you need.