Queensland Stay On Your Feet® - Toolkit Phase 3 Communication Plan
Preparing a communication plan
To organise all the communication needed for a project/program, you will need to prepare a communication plan. This involves linking communication objectives, strategies and activities to the project/program plan . It also outlines the type and frequency of information to be presented to relevant target audiences, as well as how and when information will be distributed. While preparing a communication plan takes time, it will improve the project/program’s success and help to keep target audiences and key stakeholders informed about progress.
Please note that a communication plan differs from a more comprehensive social marketing plan. A communication plan simply plans and keeps track of communication activities (allowing process evaluation), whereas a social marketing plan sets measurable objectives for change in the target group as a result of communication activities (allowing impact and outcome evaluation). As a project team, you should decide which type of plan you wish to prepare as only one of these two types of plans is required. Staffing and financial resources may influence this decision.
For more information on social marketing, visit:
Reach and marketing
Preparing a social marketing plan
An easy way to prepare a communication plan is to provide detailed information about the project/program’s communication activities using the following framework:
- why you will communicate (goal)
- what you will communicate (key messages)
- who you will communicate with (target group)
- how you will communicate (communication tools)
- when you will communicate (timing)
- who is responsible for implementing the communication plan (implementation)
- how the plan will be evaluated (evaluation).
To view a sample falls prevention communication plan developed using this framework, visit: Sample falls prevention communication plan
Why you will communicate (goal)
Clearly defining why you are communicating helps to set direction and keep the communication plan in line with the project/program goals, objectives and strategies. This should be set out in the communication plan as the communication goal.
What will you communicate (key messages)
One of the most important things to work out is what you want to communicate about the project. These are called key messages. Identify the main things that individuals, organisations and the community should know about the project/program. Key messages need to be simple, clear and conveyed many times through various sources . It is important to repeat key messages through many trusted sources, make the message stand out from the "clutter" of other information  and develop a message that is personally relevant , as people accept information slowly over time . Individuals, organisations and the community need to understand and act on these key messages.
Who do you need to communicate with (target group)
Identifying who you need to communicate with is referred to as defining your target group. You will need to consider both internal and external groups, as communication for these audiences will be quite different. Target groups for your project/program should be included in your communication plan.
Internal target groups could include:
- the project/program team
- steering committee or other advisory group
- consultants and advisers
External target groups could include:
- older people and their families and carers
- stakeholders, including supporters of the project/program
- health professionals, including GPs and occupational therapists
- the community
- funding body.
How will you communicate (communication tools)
The best communication tools to use will depend on your target groups and the type of information to be communicated. For example, tools used to communicate with the project/program team are likely to be different to those used to communicate with stakeholders and the community. Common communication tools include:
- interpersonal communication (eg. talking individually or in small groups, holding meetings)
- public speaking (eg. giving presentations at seminars, lectures, workshops, forums and conferences)
- printed materials (eg. leaflets, brochures, fact sheets, newsletters, updates)
- media (eg. articles in community newsletters, media releases generating newspaper articles and radio/television interviews, paid advertising)
- internet (eg. email newsletters, website, web discussion groups, web seminars or ‘webinars’)
- satellite broadcasts, video conferencing and teleconferencing
- project/program progress reports, intermediate reports, and final evaluation reports.
It is difficult to reach everyone that the project/program is targeted at, so ensure you develop communication networks  such as:
- a group email list
- mailing list database
- key stakeholders, who take the message back to their organisation, clients and local community
- volunteers/ambassadors, who spread the message among their peers.
|When communicating with…||Consider …|
|individuals||working with health professionals, as they are considered a trusted source of information|
|project/program team or steering committees||project updates|
face to face meetings
|funding bodies||formal progress and final reports|
face to face meetings
email and telephone contact
|organisations||meetings with decision makers|
speaking at staff training meetings
|community||large public events|
mass media (newspapers, radio and television)
Do not underestimate the power of word-of-mouth communication (also known as ‘the grapevine’). This is when a person tells another about your project/program. Messages can be passed on in many ways, including through face-to-face contact, telephone calls, text messages and email. This type of communication is powerful because the person spreading the message is known to the receiver and is considered a trustworthy and credible source.
To inform people about your project/program, try attending existing meetings of community groups, rather than holding additional meetings and expect people to come to them . By attending established meetings, people don’t have to decide which one they will attend. The Rural Chronic Disease Initiative projects found this strategy very useful .
Who is responsible for implementing the communication plan?
You will also need to consider:
- who is responsible for preparing communication material for the project/program
- how communication material will be approved, and by whom
- when will communication activities be undertaken
- whether there are relevant cultural issues (eg. need for translation of brochures)
- how privacy legislation may affect your project/program .
How will the communication plan be evaluated?
To allow process evaluation of your communication efforts, you will need to record your communication activity using simple measures such as:
For more information on process evaluation, visit: Phase 4: Review