Context, Outcomes, Messages, Management, Strategy = COMMS plan

There is no template for internal communication plans. While each plan will have common features including goals, timings, messages, tactics and responsibilities, the thrust of each plan will depend on the reason behind the need to communicate.

Even the format will change depending on what your organisation is most used to. Some people prefer power points, others basecamp or excel.

Nevertheless, there are some simple steps that should be taken in the development of any COMMS plan.


A situation analysis is the context for what you are trying to communicate. The best plans take into account the current situation, how the organisation currently talks to its stakeholders, perceptions and attitudes about the organisation – and gaps.


Every plan should ‘begin with the end in mind’ as Stephen Covey famously said. Each plan should define the results or outcomes that are expected.

For example, if you are asked to draw up a plan to communicate change, you will need to spell out what will be different and for whom once the change has happened. You will also need to spell out who needs what in terms of actions, how often and when.


Every group will require different messages. This may sound common sense but it is often neglected. The focus should be on what people need to do know what management want them to know. There is a difference: the former is honest, genuine communication; the latter is often spin.


How and when management delivers the news to the different groups has to be properly planned. Different types of change will have different timelines. 

The more change there is, the more the different groups will need to be involved. Every action should have a person assigned to undertake the task as well as a budget. The plan and processes must be managed and reviewed throughout the change process.

Strategy review

Feedback and issues will mean a constant review of the strategy throughout the process. If you don’t, you will not be delivering an effective process and the goals defined at the start may not be reached.