Writing an in-depth, comprehensive communication plan may not be high on your agenda as you’re starting or growing your business, but there are at least three significant reasons why you shouldn’t put it off. First, it forces you to develop some important things to communicate about your company so that you communicate consistently, which helps customers remember you. Second, by identifying your most important audiences, you don’t waste time and money communicating to people who are not likely to buy from you. Finally, it keeps your employees informed.


You can write a communications plan without doing any research, but it will be like picking vegetables in total darkness: You’ll still get vegetables, but if you just get one of each it won’t be enough for a meal, and you don’t want carrots for soup if you need lettuce for a salad. Some examples of research include identifying the publications that cover your business and that your customers read. News coverage about you counts for little if the wrong people read it. Research the relevant reporters and invite them to a meet-and-greet. Conduct a brief survey with your existing and prospective customers about your industry’s products and services -- what works, what doesn’t and what changes they want. Use free online survey tools or social media. Then summarize it in your executive summary or situation analysis.

Objectives and Strategies

Communicating in business isn’t just talking or writing -- it’s talking and writing with a purpose. Each objective needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-sensitive – otherwise known as SMART. For example, if your business is new, a realistic objective is to introduce yourself to the major metropolitan area. You can measure that by how many mentions you get in local newspapers, how many requests for information you get and an increase in your email list within a specific time frame.

Strategies are the methods to achieve your objectives. Public relations, for example, is a strategy suited to introducing a new company.

Some planners outline at least one goal, which is broader than an objective. This can be helpful for your first plan but is more important in large companies with several employees. Goals are always aligned with business goals, and those are typically obvious in smaller companies. For example, “communicating the company’s purpose and product selection to serve the corporate mission of being an industry leader” is an example of a communications goal.

Tactics and Budget

When you and your employees implement the plan, you employ your tactics. Examples are writing press releases, emailing reporters pitches to convince them to cover you, holding an open house for reporters and prospective customers and giving speeches at business and civic functions. This is sometimes called an action plan. How much you can do is determined by your budget for things such as press release distribution or travel, so be realistic.

Audience and Message

You can’t decide what to say until and unless you know who should pay attention. Identify and separate your critical audiences into groups: customers, reporters, analysts, distributors and sales reps are some examples. Don’t forget your employees -- you need to include them in the plan so they know what is happening.

Key messages are brief, concise statements that sum up the most important facets of your company, products or services. This will vary depending on your current objectives. For example, a message about when and how you started your business is relevant to the objective of introducing your company, but it is not as important six years later.