What is a Communication Strategy Template? (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A communication strategy template refers to the general outline of an outreach plan that companies typically create to prepare for changes they're implementing in the company. Companies may create communication strategy templates for pre-planned events, such as product releases or company mergers. They may also create templates for unexpected occurrences, such as public relations issues that require immediate responses. In this article, we discuss how to develop an effective communication strategy template with steps and examples.

What is a communication strategy template?

A communication strategy template can refer to both a Microsoft Excel template or a set of pre-established steps or responses that a company can take in response to a variety of situations. Companies use these to either announce new changes in the company or recover from a mistake that the company made. Company executives typically agree on these steps prior to needing them, so the company can respond quickly.

How to write a communication strategy template

To begin creating your own strategy template, you can review the following steps to help you conceptualise what you wish to accomplish and the methods by which you can achieve them:

1. Audit the current status of your communications materials

Reviewing what the company currently plans to do in case of an emergency can be a helpful place to start. This audit allows you to discover any potential oversight in your current communications plan, so you can ensure that you cover these oversights in your new plan. You could also consider hosting focus groups or contacting your audience and requesting feedback on the company's current communication plan. Individuals outside the company that regularly interact with your communication plan may discover issues you may have missed.

Example: You're a part of a company that manufactures cell phones, and your primary method of communicating with your customers is via phone. If at some point your product begins malfunctioning, your customers may want to contact you to request help fixing it, but they can't reach you because you primarily communicate with them over the phone. You may discover this oversight thanks to your audit, so now you know you must also establish a customer service email or some other variety of communication that your customers can utilise without a functional cell phone.

Related: 16 Good Communicator Characteristics (and How to Become One)

2. Set specific goals based on the results of your audit

It may be useful to broadly audit the company's communication strategy to discover issues like the one above, but typically you can achieve more proactive goals by implementing specific changes from the results of your audit. Instead of simply looking for errors, you can review your audit with consideration given to a desired outcome or change.

Example: Consider a company that has difficulty retaining its trained employees for more than a few years. The company conducts an audit of exit interviews and discovers that many employees are dissatisfied with the company's frequent lack of employee responsiveness, so employees begin to feel unappreciated. By establishing their intention of retaining employees for longer periods of time, the company could then develop a new communication strategy directed towards their current workforce that offers more incentives for performing quality work, such as monthly office parties or regular bonuses.

3. Select a target audience

Consider choosing what specific audience you wish to speak to with your new communications plan. If you're creating a communications plan that focuses on releasing a new product, consider your current and prospective customers the audience of your communication. If you're creating a communication plan that's responding to a recent financial crisis within the company, consider the company's stakeholders or the media as your audience. You may consider the employees as your audience if your communications plan is in response to a change in the company's structure that may impact staff workflow.

Example: If the company is reorganising and merging two departments together, you could address this to the employees a few months before the changes take place. By understanding that the employees are your audience, you can ensure that your communications plan involves a method by which the employees can ask more questions. This could involve establishing open office hours in which employees could come to your office and ask any questions they might have.

Related: What Is Marketing Communication? Definition and Examples

4. Create your plan considering your audience

Once you've done all the preliminary research, you can begin drafting your communications strategy template. This template can include, but is not limited to, resolving the current issue you're attempting to resolve. Ideally, the lessons that you learn from resolving this issue can inform the structure of your template, which can help make future crisis responses easier and faster. For a general idea of what your communication strategy can include, consider the following sections:

  • Purpose: This refers to the reason that you require a communications plan, and it can be as specific as the current situation or as general as a potential type of issue you may encounter.

  • Escalation framework: This describes the hierarchy of more extreme responses you can take if previous responses can't resolve the issue.

  • Responsibilities: This refers to the individuals involved in this response. This can help you ensure that the company has somebody working on all necessary aspects of the communication plan.

  • What not to do: You can populate this section with any previous lessons learned. This can ensure you don't repeat mistakes in your communication strategy.

  • Notes: You can use this section to organise any ideas you have to improve future communication plans.

Related: What Does a Communications Manager Do? (With Steps to Become One)

5. Determine how you're going to disseminate your message

Deciding how you're going to reach your audience with your message depends heavily on the audience you're attempting to reach. Different communication outlets are typically useful for specific audiences. If you want to speak directly to your customers, you could utilise social media or an emailing list. If you're speaking to your own employees, you could hold a meeting or send out a memo. If your communication plan involves responding to customer concerns, you could establish a hotline that your customers can call if they have more questions.

6. Establish the roles of your team members in the communication strategy

Now that you know who your audience is and how you're going to reach them, you can establish who among your team members is delivering the message. You could make this decision based on prior history with public relations, so an employee that works in human resources could relay the message. If you're releasing the message in a written medium, you could task a copywriter on your team with crafting the message and sending it over email or on social media. If the stakeholders are asking for the company to present the information, a company executive could present it.

Related: What Does a Communication Engineer Do? A Career Overview

7. Establish a rough timeline for how long each step may take

If you're handling a time-sensitive issue such as a public relations crisis or the release schedule of a new product, you may want to consider how long each step of the process is going to take. Your template can give you an idea of how long it may take to draft and disseminate your message based on the severity of the issue. Along with the time it requires to enact your communication strategy, you may also want to consider how long your audience may be interested in your announcement.

Example: If a representative makes a minor mistake, the media may cover the issue for around a month. Considering this information, you may want to ensure that you can enact your communication strategy within that month, so you have a chance to respond to the media and the public's questions. If your communication strategy is successful, then the media's attention may shift away from the company.

8. Review the success of your communication strategy

Once you've enacted your plan, you can review its success. You can start from the first step once again and conduct an audit of the effectiveness of your communication plan, noting any shortcomings or difficulties that you faced. With each successive communication strategy, you can improve your response time and avoid previous mistakes.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles