Communications planning

A communications plan will help you to decide what’s really important—what your key messages and main audiences are—and which communications channels may work best for your particular project. If your project affects others within your unit or across campus, a plan will help ensure your colleagues are well informed and have opportunities to offer input if you’d like it.

Download a sample communications plan template.

Whether your project is simple or complex, your Internal Communications (IC) plan will usually involve the following steps:

Plan ahead

Timely communications are critical as they allow others to engage with your project in a meaningful way. Take into consideration the time that stakeholders will need to respond or offer feedback, and the time that sponsors or supervisors will need to approve content.

Developing a communications plan will help ensure that everyone has a shared understanding of the communications goals and deliverables.

Clarify your communications goals and objectives

Think about the goals for the communications aspect of the project rather than the goals of the project as a whole. What are you hoping your colleagues will do with or learn from the information you provide? Are you sharing information, seeking input or advice, attempting to influence behaviour, or expecting action? Clarifying your communications goals will influence your timing, messaging and channels.

Develop your key messages

Clarify the key information that you want to convey, framed in active and concise statements, using positive and inclusive language. Keep messaging as consistent, engaging and brief as possible.

If you're able to incorporate UVic Edge messaging, great! See the Edge brand site for more information.

Try to limit your key messages to three. If you have more than three messages, consider whether any can be eliminated or combined with others. You may have an extra key secondary message that is targeted to a specific audience (e.g. faculty) and will be used only in communications with that group.

Anticipate the needs of your audience

Whenever an initiative affects others, thoughtful communication goes a long way to ensuring a successful outcome. Who is your primary audience and how will they want to hear about your project? Put yourself in the shoes of the people who will be receiving your communications, and consider what they really need to know. Anticipate their questions in advance.

Consider strengths, challenges and opportunities

Being prepared to deal with challenges, particularly in addressing difficult topics, is part of good planning. Consider what might go sideways, develop scenarios and discuss contingencies to minimize unexpected challenges along the way.

Similarly, consider if your project will highlight strengths or open up opportunities within your unit or across campus.

Choose the best ways to share your message

The communications channels you take depend on both your goals and your audience(s). If you want to build relationships and engagement, a face-to-face approach may work best. If you have a large target audience spread across many departments and units, you'll probably consider print and/or electronic channels. If your audience is primarily students, you may want to rely heavily on social media channels and video. See communications channels for details on some of the most common UVic communications tools.

When consultation is involved, identify the scope and potential outcomes of such processes and be prepared to integrate new perspectives as your content evolves.

Don’t forget to consider using visuals and storytelling to capture peoples’ interest.

Develop a timeline/action plan

No matter how big or small your project might be, attach deadlines to each phase of the plan to help keep it on track. Pick a "delivery date" for your communications and work backwards to create a communications action timeline.

If you're considering using print or video products, you’ll need to allow extra time for development and production, editing, approvals, printing/production and delivery. Contact Communications + Marketing or Printing Services for advice.