Effective communication is the cornerstone of success, ensuring that the right information reaches the right individuals at precisely the right moment. A well-crafted Communications Plan serves as the linchpin for achieving this goal, setting the stage for seamless and impactful communication within any organization or project. In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the key components of a robust Communications Plan, providing valuable insights and practical guidance to enhance your communication strategies.

So what exactly is a communication plan then?

A Communication Plan is a document that outlines how you'll convey the appropriate messages to the right audience at the right moment. It details communication objectives, stakeholders, strategies, as well as activities and timelines.

Your Communications Plan will describe:

  • The communications objectives
  • How those objectives will be accomplished
  • The timeframes and effort involved
  • How you will measure success

A well-defined Communications Plan is important for an organisation's success. It's equally essential for project success as it ensures that all staff, managers, suppliers, and customers stay well-informed about the project's progress.

When to use a Communications Plan

If you have a diverse group of project staff, suppliers, customers, and managers, it's beneficial to create a formal plan for communicating essential messages to your stakeholders. Structured communication ensures that each stakeholder's communication needs are adequately addressed.

However, this plan doesn't replace the necessity of informal communication within a project or department. You'll still need to engage with your team about their work progress, update managers about critical risks or issues, and arrange informal meetings to report on progress. Whether formal or informal, effective communication significantly contributes to achieving your team's objectives.

Project size and having a communication plan

In smaller projects, communication tends to be straightforward and may not demand extensive proactive measures. However, as your projects grow in size and complexity, it becomes crucial to plan communication events in advance, considering the specific needs of various stakeholder groups. Larger and more complex projects, like the one described in this document, will necessitate a well-structured Communications Plan.

1.0 Summary

Summarise your Communications Plan by describing:

  1. The basis for creating the plan
  2. The current status of communications in your team
  3. The communications objectives, events and responsibilities
  4. The feedback measures and success criteria
  5. Any planning risks and issues
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2.0 Introduction

2.1 Background

Explain the circumstances in which this Communications Plan was developed. The context is crucial as it lays the groundwork for the plan, facilitates stakeholder support, and boosts your team's enthusiasm. Provide an overview for your communications plan by detailing:

  • Vision and Objectives for the Organization
  • Goals, timeframes and scope of your projects
  • Current and past communications activities
  • Existing communications staff and stakeholders
  • Current communications tools, activities and events
  • Means of reviewing communications effectiveness
  • Results of past communications surveys
  • Reasons for requiring more formal communications planning
  • The desired outcome of the communications planning process

2.2 Situation Analysis

Having established the foundation for creating the Communications Plan, the next step involves conducting a "Situation Analysis" by identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats within your communication environment. For example:

  • Strengths: Your team may be particularly good at identifying the type of information that people need to receive and the timeframe in which it should be delivered.
  • Weaknesses: But your team may for instance need to improve the frequency that the information is distributed, or make the information more selective to the target audience.
  • Opportunities: There may be opportunities for improving project awareness, company profile or public knowledge. You may also be able to build support for your project activities, help gain funding or boost productivity.
  • Threats: Threats which may exist can include; messages not being interpreted as expected, changes to your team culture depending on how they are portrayed or other departments not reacting positively to the communications sent out.

Make sure to clearly identify all strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to gain a comprehensive understanding of the environment before issuing formal communications.

2.3 Lessons Learned

After describing the communication environment, the next step is to explain the current communication status within your team:

  • List the generic communications activities that have taken place to date
  • Describe how those communications were made and the key messages portrayed
  • Identify the level of success of those messages
  • Document any lessons learned

By explaining how previous communications were carried out by your project or team and any insights gained, you can better prepare for the communication activities required to keep stakeholders well-informed with the right information at the right time.

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3.0 Objectives

Up to this point, you've outlined the current communication status within your team. Now, let's delve into the future state that this plan will help us achieve.

3.1 Communications Objectives

Provide the top 3 objectives to be achieved through this Communications Plan. Aim for objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely (S.M.A.R.T), such as:

  • Increasing stakeholder awareness
  • Improving team efficiency and productivity
  • Gaining management sponsorship and buy-in
  • Changing the perception of your team
  • Improving team culture and behaviour.

3.2 Communications Guidelines

To assist in achieving your goals, compile a list of guidelines relevant to sharing communication messages within your team. For example, your communication guidelines could include:

  • All messages will be audience-specific
  • Every key message will be communicated formally
  • Messages will be distributed through an appropriate channel
  • The team will communicate what people need to know before they need to know it
  • Communication will be tailored, based on what people need to know
  • All critical communications must be approved by management prior to distribution
  • Only the communications team will be able to distribute official press releases
  • Project-wide meetings will be held at all important milestones
  • Regular, unbiased reporting will be undertaken
  • The project team will listen and act on feedback
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4.0 Stakeholders

Up to this point, you've outlined the communication landscape and established three primary objectives for team communication. Now, let's identify the individuals responsible for crafting, delivering, and receiving the formal communication messages issued by your team. This includes those tasked with creating, disseminating, and receiving these messages.

4.1 Target Audience

List and describe the various groups of individuals, also known as stakeholders, with whom your team will engage in formal communication. Please note that this specifically pertains to a formal Communications Plan, so we should only include audience groups that will engage in formal communication with your team.

For example, a project may have the following target audiences:

  • Project board (client, sponsor, director, other board members)
  • Project management team (project manager, project leaders)
  • Project team members
  • Related project teams
  • Project management office
  • Related business unit managers
  • Internal audit or strategy staff
  • External suppliers and contractors
  • Governance and regulatory bodies

4.2 Stakeholder Requirements

Now that you have a clear understanding of your formal communication recipients, the next step is to specify the information they require and when they need it. In the table below, list each stakeholder, outline the information they require, and indicate the timeframe for delivery.





Carol Anderson

Project Sponsor

  • Summary project status
  • Critical risks and issues
  • Budget & timeline performance


James White

Project Manager

  • Detailed project status
  • All risks and issues
  • Resource, supplier, procurement budget & timeline performance


Sam Dean

Safety Auditor

  • Level of safety compliance of all deliverables produced

1st each month

Ensure that each stakeholder's needs align with the information requirements before moving forward.

4.3 Key Messages

Many teams send various communication messages to their stakeholders. However, there are usually a few key messages that are regularly shared with most stakeholders.

If there are important recurring messages crucial to the team's success, list them here. For example, in a project team, key messages may include:

  • Project status: Whether the project is currently operating within the agreed schedule, budget and quality targets.
  • Project issues: The impact of the issues currently affecting the project and the actions taken to resolve them.
  • Project risks: The high level risks which may affect the project and the actions taken to mitigate, avoid or reduce them.
  • Project deliverables: The deliverables completed to date and the items which are scheduled for completion within the next reporting period.
  • Project resources: The overall level of resourcing in relation to the Resource Plan and any resource constraints currently affecting the project.

These important messages will be incorporated into the upcoming communication events for your team.

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5.0 Channels

The next step is to identify the core communications channels.

5.1 Delivery Channels

"Delivery channels" are the means by which information is shared with your stakeholders. For example, if you lead a team, your primary communication method might be email or a regular newsletter.

The most critical factor in selecting the right delivery channel is to choose the one your audience prefers. For instance, project staff would likely prefer receiving updates on their project through internal emails rather than external press releases.

Thus, selecting the appropriate channel is as crucial as crafting the right message for the right audience at the right time.

Here are some examples of delivery channels:

Business cards
Direct mail
Fact sheets
Media packs
Newspaper ads
News conferences
Press conferences
Public meetings
Social events
Speaking engagements
Team meetings
Video presentations

5.2 Information Collection

After you've chosen the channels for sharing your information, you should consider the source of the content to fill these channels. For example, where will the news for your weekly newsletter come from?

Complete the following tables to specify the information source for each channel that you have listed above.


Weekly Newsletter

Information Requirement

Project Status, progress, key interest items.

Information Provider

Project Manager, Project Administrator

Collection Timeframe

Friday afternoons.

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6.0 Communications Plan

Now, you can plan the communication activities needed to ensure the right stakeholders are well-informed with the appropriate information at the correct times..

6.1 Communications Schedule

Plan the timing of each communication event you intend to host to share your messages with stakeholders. To give you an idea, here's an example schedule for a small project:

  • Team meetings
  • Regular newsletters
  • Social events
  • Managers' conference
  • Team members' seminar
  • Project news alerts

6.2 Communications Events

Next, make a table with the communication events from the schedule in section 6.1. Connect them using a shared "ID." Provide detailed descriptions of these events to assist your team in completing them on schedule.

6.3 Communications Responsibilities

Now, create a responsibilities chart. In this table, list the individuals responsible for the communication events mentioned earlier and describe their roles using the provided key. Use the unique ID to link the involved parties to the communication events listed above. The table has already been partly filled for the project example provided.

A = Accountable for communication event (as marked in green)
R = Receives communications materials, takes part in meetings (as marked in yellow)
M = Monitors communications process and provides feedback (as marked in orange).

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7.0 Feedback

Once each communication event is finished, you should gather feedback to determine its success. The criteria for measuring success are outlined in the following section.

7.1 Feedback Measures

You should establish various feedback methods to assess the success of each event and ensure the correct information reached the intended audience on time.

If feedback is positive and all criteria are met, the event is deemed successful. However, if feedback indicates that certain criteria were not fulfilled, you may need to organize an alternative communication event or adjust message distribution to address any raised issues.

List the feedback methods you'll use for assessing scheduled communication events. Examples include:

  • Questionnaires
  • Feedback forms
  • Complaints forms
  • Telephone surveys
  • Independent audits

7.2 Success Criteria

After outlining the methods for collecting feedback, the next step is to list the criteria that define the success of a communication event or activity. It's crucial to provide clear and precise criteria in this section. This enables easy comparison between the feedback received and the criteria listed here to assess the activity's satisfactory completion.

Here are some examples:

  • The message reached its intended audience
  • The message was distributed through the planned channel
  • The output reached the intended audience on schedule
  • The distribution was effective
  • The message achieved the desired effect
  • The message addressed the information requirements of the audience
  • The message was received as honest and trustworthy
  • There were no complaints received

8.0 Appendix

Attach any documentation you believe is relevant to the Communications Plan. For example:

  • Existing Newsletters
  • General correspondence
  • Corporate Communications Policies, Standards or Guidelines

8.1 Assumptions

List any planning assumptions you have made during the creation of this Communications Plan. For example, it may be assumed that:

  • There are adequate resources available to complete the assigned tasks.
  • The timeframes listed in the Communications Schedule are satisfactory.
  • The required budget is available to complete the tasks needed.

8.2 Risks

List any risks identified during the creation of this Communications Plan. For example:

  • Key communications resources leave during the project.
  • The requirements for communication change during the project.
  • The list of project stakeholders changes throughout the project.


In summary, effective communication involves careful planning, clear goals, tailored messages, and feedback. Following these principles empowers organizations and project teams to enhance their communication strategies, ensuring clients & stakeholders stay well-informed and engaged. With the right approach, communication becomes a driving force for success in projects and organizations.