A communications plan is designed to outline how and when information associated with the implementation and outcomes of a National Water Safety Plan will be disseminated to internal and external stakeholders and media. Regularly releasing interesting information and progress updates may help maintain stakeholder interest in plan implementation and also increase chances of engagement with the public, the government and other important organisations.
A communications plan should aim to answer the following questions. The answers to these questions can then be turned into sections of a communications plan and which will inform when dissemination materials should be released, who they will target and in what format they will be created:
- Why communicate? What is the purpose of communicating this information?
- Who is your target audience? Is it internal stakeholders, the public, media companies, government bodies or the general population?
- What will you communicate? What information will you direct to each of your target audiences?
- How will you communicate this information? Will you use social media, press releases, online blog posts, print media, conferences or events?
- When will you communicate this information? Create a strategic timeline for when specific information should be released.
During and/or at the end of water safety plan implementation, it may be useful to evaluate the success of the communications plan. How many people did were reached and were they part of the specified target audiences? Was there any visible response or reaction to the information released? Did the communications plan improve or benefit water safety plan implementation and why or why not? Answering these questions will help to improve the current plan and also allow for better communication plans to be developed for successive water safety plans.
- There are many free to access online resources to assist with communication planning.
- It is cost-effective to create and implement.
- It can work to significantly improve awareness and support for National Water Safety Plan implementation.
- Helps engage with stakeholders, the public, media companies and the government.
- Focuses and promotes the aims and purposes of the water safety plan.
- Enables stakeholders to be aware of their aims and purposes associated with plan implementation.
- It may be time consuming to create.
- Detailed communications plans may require previous experience to create.
- It may be difficult to describe the actions required to take to achieve each communication aim.
- It can be difficult to decide what and when to communicate.
- Information may be communicated, but not absorbed by the audience.
- Information can be taken out of context.
- Some information may be leaked or released at the wrong time.
A communications plan should developed after confirming the gaols, objectives and anticipated outputs of a National Water safety Plan, before beginning its implementation. It allows to predict what information will be available and when. It is important to evaluate and update a communications plan regularly throughout water safety plan implementation, especially if major changes or disruptions occur.
Implement and monitor the plan