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What's a communication plan? Definition

A communication plan describes who within the organisation can communicate what to who.

It also states which channels these communication owners can use and when and how often the organisation wants to communicate.

We often start on setting out a communication plan by listing the stakeholders we want to reach, as in this communication plan example:

Communication plan example:

Example of a communication plan
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What the difference between a communication plan and a communication strategy?

The communication strategy stipulates what the organisation wants to achieve and why.

The communication plan specifies how the organisation is going to do that. So the communication plan follows from the communication strategy and we can only draw it up once we have determined the communication strategy. 

Why do you have to draw up a communication plan?

A communication plan is useful for getting an idea of the workload and the required budget for the different communication owners.

It also allows us to see where additional procedures are possibly needed. For example, if HR, corporate communication and marketing all have access to the organisation's LinkedIn account, it might be good to create some procedures and policies to avoid traffic jams on certain channels.

Additionally, a communication plan, just like the communication strategy, is an explicit reflection of the most significant hypotheses within the communications department: “If we communicate with this frequency and spread our communications via these channels, we will achieve the desired reputational effects.”

By making the hypotheses explicit, we make it easier to trace which hypotheses we need to adjust.

Example: “We notice that we get much more engagement if we post twice a week on LinkedIn instead of once a week. From now on, we will post a status update at least twice a week on LinkedIn.”

Finally, a documented plan allows us to see at the end of a reporting period (forexample a quarter or a year) whether the communication objectives have been attained. 

Read more about communication strategy: