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Create a communications plan

State your purpose

Begin your plan by stating clearly why you need to communicate with others.

Identify your audience(s)

Who are the target audiences that you want or need to communicate with? They could include the general public, decision-makers, funders, or a particular individual. If you have a range of different audiences, they are each likely to require specific messages to inspire and motivate them to act.

Design and agree your messages

What do you need to say to persuade each audience to support your campaign and its aims? The most effective messages include three things: the issue to be addressed, your solution(s) to it, and what you want your target audience to do to help you bring about the changes needed.  The Elevator Pitch and Opposition Matrix in Section 9 will help you refine your messages for each audience.

“Describe the issue in a way that resonates with the values and needs of your audience…”

Decide your best channels for communications

How will you reach your target audiences? To communicate with the public, you can use a variety of tools including a website, newsletters, flyers, as well as print, broadcast, and social media.  If you are targeting specific groups or individuals, such as a key politician, it may be more effective to begin a dialogue with them by using private letters, emails or phone calls. Make sure you consider who is going to begin the dialogue, and that they are the right person. You can also use external opportunities that arise, such as responding to a timely and relevant government consultation.

What resources do you have?  Do you need?

You may need to pay for adverts, photography or videos. However, often there are people within the campaign or those you could recruit, who have communications skills and experience. A campaign supporter with good media contacts can help you access the right people. Others could take a lead on different tasks, such as writing press releases, preparing tweets or presentations. There may be volunteers who will take good photographs or make videos for the campaign. Your stakeholder group can be asked to share key campaign messages through their own networks. Local businesses may offer support on a pro-bono basis.

Create an action plan

Once you decide who you will target, what you will say, and how, the next big question is who will do what, by when, and for what purpose? Look at the best timing for each of your actions, consider what media is most watched/listened to/read by your target audience(s), and decide what you will do so that you have the greatest impact.

Monitor, evaluate and adapt your plan as needed

Monitor, review and update your plan so it remains on-track, fresh and relevant, and enables you to achieve the campaign’s goals. Remember to build regular reviews into your action plan. If you are planning on repeating some actions within your campaign, ensure you learn from what works well each time so you are more prepared and more effective next time.