Page 2: Writing a communications plan
The communication process involves transmitting information from a sender to a receiver. However, effective communication needs to ensure that the message has been not only received but also clearly understood. This is relevant whether the communication is internal or external. The message needs to be sent in a way that it will appeal to and be understood easily by the target receiver or audience. This involves selecting an appropriate format or channel to deliver the message.
Examples of media that may be used include a leaflet, a television advert and a personal letter. The feedback part of the process is vital as this is how the sender knows if the message has been received correctly.
For the message to be effective, barriers to communication (known as ‘noise’) need to be eliminated or reduced. Noise is anything that might distort the message or prevent the receiver getting or understanding the message. For example, noise might include using language or jargon that the receiver will not understand or using a channel such as email or the internet when the receiver does not have a computer.
Tailoring the message
A communications plan uses the same principles of tailoring the message and the delivery channel for a target audience. A communications plan also sets out the overall objectives to be achieved and the means by which these will be measured.
Businesses engage in both internal and external communication. Internal communication may involve transmitting messages to shareholders, senior managers, other employees or contractors. Communication externally may be to a range of stakeholders including customers, suppliers, the media, government or the wider public. In each case, the nature of the message and the format used may be tailored to suit the audience. An effective internal communications plan can help to give clear direction within the organisation and improve employee motivation. Externally, it can even change public opinion.