How to write a strategic communications plan

Ensure your plan’s success by doing the legwork before you present it.

Ensure your plan’s success by doing the legwork before you present it

One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons shows two prisoners, chained by their wrists and ankles to a wall, in a desert prison, with no doors or windows. One says to the other: “Here’s my plan.”

Planning is almost always necessary for any enterprise to succeed, and communications is no exception, even if, as it’s sometimes said, many of the world’s greatest leaders and organizations simply know what to do by trusting their instincts and moving forward—they don’t have strategic plans.

Complexly stated, strategic planning is “integrated decision making, with the decisions ‘batched’ at one time, with a commitment to action.” That’s the definition of Henry Mintzberg, whose The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning is often cited as the authoritative text.

As it relates to communication, a good definition is provided by Lester R. Potter: “A communication plan is a written statement of what communication actions will be taken to support the accomplishment of specific organizational goals, the time frame for carrying out the plan, the budget and the procedures for measuring the results of communication.”

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