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communication plan

A communication plan is a policy-driven approach to providing stakeholders with information. The plan formally defines who should be given specific information, when that information should be delivered and what communication channels will be used to deliver the information.

An effective communications management plan anticipates what information will need to be communicated to specific audience segments. The plan should also address who has the authority to communicate confidential or sensitive information and how information should be disseminated (email, websites, printed reports, and/or presentations). Finally, the plan should define what communication channels stakeholders will use to solicit feedback and how communication will be documented and archived.

Communication plans play an important role in change management. An effective communication strategy can help break down resistance to change by getting everyone on the same page and helping stakeholders become engaged and endorse the need for change and the steps being taken to bring it about.

In project management, the communications plan may include a glossary of common terms to ensure all stakeholders use terms consistently. This glossary may also define and include samples of templates, reports and forms that the project manager will use to communicate information.

A communication plan for emergency situations is similar, but must also address ways both electronic and non-electronic communication channels should be used to disseminate information. This includes announcements over a building paging system, automated text messages, email alerts, pre-recorded robocalls and the use of phone trees and social media.

This was last updated in May 2015

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Why do formal communication plans fall by the wayside so often?
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The simple answer is that any formalized protocols, unless they are being enforced by machines in their communication, or the protocols do not place a burden on the users, they are likely to fall by the wayside when the work becomes imperative and needed NOW. In those environments, most of us go for speed first, reliability and security second.  
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