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Communication planning is the development of a clear, consistent, and appropriate strategy for marketing campaigns and other communications from a company to members of the public. An overall strategy for all communications can guide activities and provide a framework for employees to use. Specific plans can be developed for particular events or campaigns. Companies can use a number of approaches to communication planning and may hire a consultant to assist with this process.
In communication planning for a company overall, personnel think about the kind of message they want to project to the public. Communications should stay on message and appropriate to the style, tone, and image of the company. They may also follow a specific format, and the company could have clear guidelines in place for how to handle different situations. Spokespeople must follow these guidelines to stay consistent and prevent the accidental release of confidential or damaging information.
With a specific campaign, advertising personnel sit down to define what they want to market, who they want to market it to, and how they plan to reach the target demographic. The communication planning will contribute to the development of a clear marketing strategy. As the company moves forward with the campaign, it can determine whether it is meeting marketing goals or getting off track.
A focus on communications can be important, especially for a new company that wants to establish a reputation and image. Whether a company is using direct mail to reach new clients or setting up radio ads, the marketing should be consistent. The company must stick to key points and communicate them clearly. Consumers should recognize the company's products and services through the advertising. If they do not, or if the ads create a negative image of the company, this is often the result of poor communication planning. Situations where multiple people contribute to a campaign without actively working together on communications can create inconsistent and confusing messages.
Brainstorming can be a useful tool for communication planning. Staff members can meet together to discuss a project and goals in an informal environment where all contributions are welcome. They should generate a list of topics, ideas, and priorities to use in the development of a clear strategy. A consultant can offer guidance with this process. Consultants may interview various personnel to learn about their perceptions of a given project, and pull this information together to generate comprehensive and clear guidelines for all members of the company to follow in external communications.