An integral part of running any business is knowing how to develop a strategic communications plan. Whether you’re a large corporation, a small agency, or even a non-profit organization, a communication plan is vital to the structure and workflow of your entire team. Without a plan, it can be difficult to ensure that all your communications – both internally and externally – are cohesive and on message.

But a strategic communications plan doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, effort and a lot of thought to put together a plan that will work for your organization.

It can seem daunting if you’ve never crafted one before, but rest assured – the benefits far outweigh the level of lift and effort it will take on your part. And to help your efforts along, we’ve compiled five steps to help you get started with crafting a communications plan for your company.

1. Define your goals and objectives

As with most strategies, you first need to determine what the end goal is going to be. What do you specifically want to achieve within your organization? What do you want to accomplish short-term and long-term?

Once you have a firm understanding of your goals and objectives, it will be easier for you to gauge whether or not those goals are achievable and tangible. By the completion of your communications plan, you should be able to definitively say that the objective was successfully met.

2. Assess your current resources

Before you can begin to develop a plan, you need to take an inventory of your current resources. This includes everything from the people you have on staff, to the tools, programs and technology you’re using. Once you know what assets you have, it will be easier to determine what kind of additional help, if any, will be necessary for your plan to be effective.

3. Determine who your target audience is

It’s not enough to know what your goals and objectives are, you also need to know who you’re trying to reach and communicate with. This will help you determine the tone, style and messaging of your plan.

4. Create a timeline

Once you know what your goals and objectives are, who your target audience is and what resources you have available, it’s time to start putting together a timeline. This is where you put all the pieces together and map out a final plan of action. It’s an important step as it helps to ensure that all aspects of your communications plan are executed in a timely manner, and it also helps to keep everyone on track.

Your timeline should include specific deadlines for when each task needs to be completed, as well as who is responsible for each step. This will help keep everyone on track and ensure that no aspect of the plan falls through the cracks.

5. Implement, monitor, evaluate & adjust

The final step is to put your plan into action and then monitor its effectiveness. As with any plan, it’s important to constantly evaluate and adjust your strategy based on the results. This will help ensure that your communications plan is constantly evolving and meeting the needs of your organization.

Creating a strategic communications plan can seem intimidating, but following these five steps will help make the process a little bit easier. By taking the time to develop a plan that’s tailored to your specific organization, you can ensure that all of your communications are cohesive and consistent. And that’s a win for everyone involved.