I'm not sure what you're looking for so I've enclosed the basics of a communications plan.
Where to Get Information
Grist for the plan generally comes from five sources:
- your association mission statement,
- a communication audit,
- membership surveys and focus groups,
- committee and leadership input, and
- discussions with other staff and departments.
How to Develop the Plan
Take the following steps to develop an effective communication plan:
Conduct a research-communication audit. Evaluate your current communications. Some associations hire firms to do this, but the price for the objectivity of an outside auditor can be high. To conduct your own audit, find out
- what every staff person is doing in the way of communication,
- what each communication activity is designed to achieve, and
- how effective each activity is.
To get the answers you need,
- brainstorm with communication staff,
- talk to other departments,
- interview the chief staff executive,
- interview the board,
- talk to communication committee members,
- survey the membership,
- host focus groups, and
- query nonmembers.
Define objectives. Armed with information from your audit, define your overall communication objectives-the results you want to achieve. These might include
- excellent service to members,
- member loyalty,
- centralization of the communication effort,
- increased employee teamwork,
- improved product delivery,
- visibility for the association and the industry or profession it represents, and
- influence on government, media, consumers, and other audiences.
Define audiences. List all the audiences that your association might contact, attempt to influence, or serve. Included on your list may be
- related associations;
- adversarial associations;
- federal, regional, and local governments;
- related industries; and
- the media.
Define goals. With stated objectives, and considering available human and financial resources, define goals-in other words, a program of work for each objective. Goals include general programs, products, or services that you will use to achieve stated objectives. For example, if the objective is to improve member service, goals might include improved training for the member-service function, special communications directed at first-time members, a reference manual for handling complaints, and ongoing information for members.
Identify tools. Decide what tools will be used to accomplish stated goals. These tools can be anything from a simple flyer to a glossy magazine. Don't overlook less obvious tools such as posters, report covers, Rolodex cards, and Web sites. Brainstorm ideas with your staff.
Establish a timetable. Once objectives, goals, audiences, and tools have been identified, quantify the results in a calendar grid that outlines roughly what projects will be accomplished and when. Separate objectives into logical time periods (monthly, weekly, etc.).
Evaluate the result. Build into your plan a method for measuring results. Your evaluation might take the form of
- a monthly report on work in progress,
- formalized department reports for presentation at staff meetings,
- periodic briefings of the chief staff executive and the department heads, and
- a year-end summary for the annual report.
Developing a written communication plan will take effort. Plan on three or four days the first time you do it. Once in place, the written plan will smooth your job all year long, earn you respect from the CEO and other staff, help set work priorities, protect you from last-minute demands, and bring a semblance of order to your chaotic job.