The COMMS Plan

COMMS Method Work the process (1)

Complexity is the new normal for almost all organisations. Engagement is down, change is constant. Effective communication remains a critical and sometimes elusive tool in getting things done well.

There is no magic ‘template’ for communication planning, but following a consistent planning process ensures clear, targeted messages that get the outcomes required.

Having worked with diverse organisations implementing many different changes, we have identified some fundamental elements that help connect communication activity with the business outcomes you need to achieve.

What is the COMMS Plan?

The COMMS Plan is a five step approach that focusses on asking the right questions to develop a communication plan that will create outcomes, not noise. Using a process rather than a template allows for a transparent common approach to addressing the requirements of effective communication planning.

Recognised by the IABC as powerful tool, it has been featured as a tool in Catalyst, in this article: How to make better communication planning a habit and in two IABC webinars.

The COMMS plan involves consistently applying five questions.

It has evolved through its use in planning, process improvement, coaching, strategic communication and workshops.

With a focus on outcomes and measurement built into every stage of the approach, the COMMS plan works with the communication planning method used by IABC for evaluating Gold Quills, with change methodologies such as PROSCI, and with coaching models. It is not linked to a template or proprietary tools. Instead, if focusses on answering the essential questions that go into effective, award-winning measurable communication plans.

Audiences and measurement are included at each of the five stages of the process.

Who is the COMMS Plan for?

The COMMS Plan is simple enough to be adopted by project teams, leaders, managers or communication professionals to ensure a better outcome for their business activity by getting the communication right. For HR and Communication teams, the Shorter COMMS Plan provides a straightforward toolset that can help cut through the clutter and become a valuable framework for alignment.

Executive Teams use the COMMS Plan to translate strategy into outcomes. The process means that there is clarity and consistency at all stages of the process. Change activity managed with the COMMS plan creates a true line-of-sight for employees – a key driver of employee engagement.

How can you use the COMMS method?

As it aligns with the the Global Standard for communication professional development, the COMMS Plan can be applied whenever some form of communication is required:

  • a team meeting
  • a coaching discussion
  • announcements and releases
  • social media planning
  • project communication
  • product or service updates
  • restructures or other change projects
  • business planning
  • strategic planning

For communication professionals the consistent approach means that there is a focus on outcomes, whether for a whole strategy, or for a specific tactic.

Using the COMMS plan to build consistency within an organisation

As the COMMS plan is simple and scalable, it’s simple and effective to embed it as a common approach within an organisation. This takes the mystery out of the communication planning process. Most importantly by ‘showing how it’s done’, the conversation moves from what tactic will be used, to what outcome is needed. This is a key driver of ensuring communication is strategic.

By helping partners across an organisation communicate more effectively, communication professionals and teams can deliver greater outcomes.

Course Outlines

The COMMS plan model is free to use under a Creative Commons non commercial attribution license. Please get in touch if you would like to use it or the tools in training or other products.

There are three core workshops based on the COMMS approach:

The COMMS Plan: Five steps to more effective communication

An introduction to the use of the COMMS Plan method to achieve better outcomes with communication and planning. The COMMS Plan is a clear five-step process that can be easily adopted and adapted in any organisation for clearer communication and greater impact.

Better manager communication: Using the COMMS Plan as a leadership tool

The most significant impact on an employee’s experience is their manager. This one-day program provides managers a powerful, simple communication planning approach that can be used for 1:1 discussions, team meetings, presentations and during change.

Communicating to achieve change

Change is a core competency for all organisations, and communication has a significant role in making change work. This one-day program focuses on the essentials of change management for communicators, with an emphasis on ensuring outcomes through action.

Download the Meaning Business Course Brochure here [PDF]:  Meaning Business COMMS Course Overview WS or book a workshop.

Feedback on the Shorter COMMS Plan

“I loved this simple yet powerful approach for Capability Building. I have just started my venture on the L&D field and this has helped me to work on many aspects that I overlooked earlier.” Webinar participant

“Fantastic webinar! I love the simplicity of the 5 Step COMMS system. It is a great tool for educating business leaders about the communications process.” Webinar participant

Happeo featured the method in an article on effective manager communication.

All Things IC included the method in a roundup of tools for manager communication.

Alive With Ideas produced a roundup of planning methods and tools for helping organisations communicate more effectively, including the COMMS framework.

MediaWise Communications have adapted the model, changing Methods to ‘Manage’ and ‘Support’ to Strategy Review

The 2015 Government Communication Australia Conference round up from Comms Go Digital included the COMMS Plan as a tool.

And meanwhile, the original How to Create A Communication Plan I created for WikiHow has reached over 500000 views.

For information on future Shorter Comms Plan workshops please get in touch.


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