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.

Date Audience Tactics/Vehicles Lead Status
Chart in chronological order Fill in pertinent audience(s) What is the tactic you are employing at this point in time? Who is responsible for making this happen? What is the status of this tactic?


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