Start Your Plan

Tactics without strategy is just the noise before defeat – Sun Tzu

The start of any communication is a planning process — whether this takes a minute or two in your head before you send an email or takes an in-depth process to consider all the complexities. Most communications planning processes follow these steps (with each step informing the next):


Research can include either formal and informal methods such as surveys, focus groups or pulse-taking. What research demonstrates the need for communication and support your proposed approach.


Identify the specific communications problem or opportunity that you want to address.


Describe who your communications need to reach. Segment your audiences into different groups based on common features, demographics or requirements needed.

Communications Goals & Objectives

    • Goals are usually broad and discuss your general intentions. They are abstract and can be difficult to impartially evaluate.
    • Objectives are the concrete supports for your goal. Objectives typically are results-based versus activities-based and are most often stated in terms of behaviours or beliefs. When writing objectives you need to ensure they are S.M.A.R.T – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.


Define the scope of this strategy, and if necessary explain what the strategy does not cover and why. What tone will to be used in communication (serious, funny, thoughtful, etc.), the approach (e.g. high/low fanfare, high/low audience involvement), and whether you will use a lead spokesperson.

Key Messages

Key messages should be simple, memorable and address the question “what’s in it for me?”If there was one thing that you would want your target audience to remember in order to support your goals and objectives, what would that message be? Expand that key thought to several messages you want your audiences to specifically remember. You may need to establish specific messages for specific audiences.


This is where you detail the actual item that your audience will see or interact with. This could be anything from events you will host to posters, emails, videos or other creative.


You have gone through the process. Your plan was great, you created award-winning collateral, and it went to the exact right people. But, now that the work is out there, how do you really know if your communications were effective?

How to access

If you’re interested in more information on communications planning, get in touch with your VPFO Communications advisor.


New to communications planning? We’ve put together a straightforward template to guide you through the process.

Communications Plan Template [WORD]

Understanding your audience is an important part of getting your message across. Use the research we have available to inform your planning.

VPFO Portfolio Research Reports

This is a simplified communications plan designed to be used for smaller projects or to provide brief overview of a more complex plan’s goals, approach, or key messages.

Communications Brief Template [Word]