26 Communication Tools and Strategies | Strategy vs. Plan

This article by Medium, does a great job at outlining the difference between a communication strategy and plan. To summarize, your strategy defines the “why”, while your plan defines the “how”.

Some other key differences highlighting in this Medium article include:

  • Strategy is flexible, a plan is fixed. In other words, strategy is focused on the bigger picture and as a result has the ability to be more flexible than a plan which is typically focused on more granular details and is more difficult to change on the fly.
  • Strategy is ongoing until review, a plan is based on a timeframe for a specific project or season.a person looking through a telescope

Before you can undergo any planning, you need to know what the strategy is. This usually includes:

  • Business objectives
  • Brand objectives
  • Stakeholders
  • Key messages
  • Issues and risks
  • Audience / audience insight

Once you’re clear on what the overarching aim is, you can then start to think about how you’re going to use this insight to reach your target audience, which will eventually lead to your communication plan. Your plan should include:

  • Strategy overview
  • Channels
  • Tactics
  • Timings
  • Resource

Key components of a communications plan 

A typical communications plan can be broken down into 5 sections.

  1. Stakeholder / Audience
  2. Objectives
  3. Message / Content
  4. Delivery Methods
  5. Frequency / Time

It is also important to note that the creation of a communications plan is an iterative process that changes, based on your evaluation of the communication plan once you begin implementing the plan.

The rest of this section will cover the key steps to create an effective communications plan. These steps are:

Defining goals defining audience and channels defining message and content measure success

After working through these four steps you should have a draft of your communication plan. Throughout the rest of the module, various reflection questions will be posed for you to think about. It is suggested that you take notes as you move through the next four sections to help you when it comes time to actually build your own communications plan!

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