Writing a Communications Plan

student looking through book

Communications Plan should include:

 Download a fillable (Word Doc) Communications Plan Template 



In this section, you write a few paragraphs about the event or the issue being addressed by this communications plan:

  • How did this event/initiative come about?
  • Are there issues to be addressed?
  • What do you hope to achieve with this event or by managing the issue?
  • What do you hope to achieve with this communication plan (briefly)?

Objectives of the Communications Plan

What are your objectives of this plan? Some examples could be:

  • To build broad understanding of and support for the event/initiative
  • To inform internal staff and external stakeholders about the event/initiative
  • To enhance the reputation of the University
  • To manage the risks of negative response to the event/initiative
  • To manage expectations of key stakeholders


The communications plan will achieve its objectives by employing certain strategies. Some examples could be:

  • Campaign to Inform and educate internal stakeholders
  • Community relations campaign to reach external community stakeholders
  • Public relations campaign to raise public awareness of UTM and the event/initiative
  • Media relations strategy – proactive and reactive


What are some of the tactics and tools you need to for your strategies? Some tactics include:

  • Web site content (or even developing an initiative-specific Web site)
  • Promotional materials for external distribution
  • PowerPoint presentations (tailored to various audiences)
  • Customized backgrounder and/or Question and Answer document
  • Briefings for selected audiences (i.e., reporters, internal and external stakeholders)
  • E-Mail communication to internal audience
  • Write-up in Internal and external publications
  • Organizing a speaking tour
  • Development of graphics packages
  • Development of media distribution list


Who do you want to reach with this communications plan? Some examples include:

  • Faculty and staff
  • Students
  • Student associations
  • Media
  • Donors
  • Broader public
  • Academics (beyond the university)
  • Government officials

Key Messages

What do you want to say to your audiences? Usually, you have 2-3 main messages and then some secondary ones based on audience needs.

  • What is the most important message about your event/initiative (e.g., This event at the University of Toronto marks the first time it has been held in North America)
  • What is the second-most important message? (e.g. This event recognizes the leadership role that the University of Toronto plays in international academic circles)
  • What are your secondary messages? (e.g., Staff and faculty will benefit greatly from participation in this event)


This chart is essentially a road map for your tactics and messages. It is a useful tool to keep the plan on track.

Tactics and Rollout chart


This section helps you assess your efforts and set benchmarks for future events. It could include:

  • Bi-weekly review and update of the plan to assess the effectiveness of tactics and messages;
  • Periodic check of timelines; ensuring program is on schedule
  • Daily media monitoring to identify potential issues and to assess what we need to do to increase/decrease media coverage