Creating a communications plan

Good planning helps you to focus on your overall aims and the best ways in which you might achieve them.

We can guide you through creating a communications plan and have made a simple template that you can download.

To get you started though, here are some things to consider when developing a communications plan:

  • Aims/objectives of communication - what do you want to achieve? For example, do you just want people to be aware of something or do you want them to act in some way? Knowing your goals helps when you come to measure the success of your communications.
  • Key messages - what do you want to say? You should list both what you want to say (i.e. the organisational messages) and what your audience needs to know - these may be very different from each other. The goal of your plan is to reconcile your 'needs' with theirs.
  • Audiences - who are you communicating with? Is it all staff? Is it just academic staff or only Professional Services staff? Is it students in a particular year group? Is it managers? Is it customers or service users? It's key that you spend some time thinking about this so that you can make sure that your communications are targeted at the intended people. There may, of course, be more than one audience, requiring more than one approach.
  • Key dates and times - what are the key points in your process? If you are developing a new policy, for example, you might want to gather opinions before developing the policy; report on progress during its development; and then communicate the changes while implementing the new policy. Each of these will require communications.
  • Channels - how will you get your message across? A number of communications channels are available at Sussex that you can read about on these web pages. Decide which ones are right for you and then plan how and when you will use them. This will help to make sure that your efforts are joined up.
  • Images/photo opportunities - you may want pictures or video, e.g. for web pages, news articles, presentations, posters, hoardings, etc. Make a list of any images (photos, logos, cartoons, graphics, tables, graphs, etc.) you have, any opportunities for a good photo that are coming up, and also any images that you would like but don't yet have.
  • Budget - quite simply, is there any money to spend on the communications? You will need to cost any expenditure, e.g. on print, design, training, etc.
  • Evaluation - how will you analyse if your communications have been successful? This takes you back to your aims.

We would encourage anybody who needs to communicate about an issue or a change to discuss your plans with a member of our team (see the people and contacts page).