Create a Template
Given the number of tasks needed to launch a communications effort successfully, it is a good idea to develop a system for keeping track of the progress toward getting the information out about the evaluation to the designated audience(s).
One way to strategically keep track is to develop a communications plan template.
- The communications plan template should ensure that the results of a program evaluation are shared accurately and successfully.
- It should enable an evaluation team to examine the various tasks required to support telling the story revealed by the evaluation.
- The template should also help to determine who should be informed about the evaluation results.
Templates for communications plans can be purchased or developed by the evaluation team. Click on the tabs below for futher information about each of these options.
Here are several approaches to creating a communications plan template:
- Basic communications matrix
- Teamwork Matrix
A communications plan can be developed by creating a checklist of tasks that need to be done and the staff person or persons who are responsible for accomplishing each task.
The 6 questions discussed in the Develop a Communications Plan section can be used to define the tasks, which may include:
- Listing the communication stakeholders (your audiences)
- Identifying the content needed to reach each type of audience
- Determining how you will communicate your results to each audience
- Scheduling the times and frequencies of any communication events
- Allocating any necessary resources (staff time or funds needed to accomplish communication goals, reports, or events)
A Basic Communication Matrix
Instead of a check list, a communications plan can be develop as matrix like the one shown below:
|Audience||Content||Format / Media||Timing||Resources|
- Source: Adapted from Preskill, H. (2006). Communicating and Reporting Evaluation Processes and Findings. Presentation at the AEA/CDC Summer Evaluation Institute
Filling in each category across the matrix will ensure that the:
- Right messages to the correct people will be made at the right time
- Resources needed to communicate to the target audience are in place
- Timeframe for getting the message out is established
A Teamwork Matrix
Another useful resource is utilizing a Teamwork Matrix. Click the following link to view a Teamwork Matrix. The Teamwork Matrix allows for managing of work functions based upon
- The frequency with which the tasks need to be completed (routinely versus irregularly)
- The need for collaboration (autonomously versus interdependently)
There are a number of relatively inexpensive communications plan templates that can be purchased.
One example of a communications plan template that can be purchased is from a company called Method123 Ltd. The direct link to the Method 123 Ltd site for communictions plans is: http://www.method123.com/communication-plan.php?gclid=CO33hLLwtpYCFQOcFQodXWyeKw.
According to Method123 Ltd:
- “A Communication Plan (or Communications Plan) describes how you intend to communicate the right messages to the right people at the right time.
- Within a Communication Plan, the communication goals, stakeholders and strategies, activities and timeframes are described.
- A Communication Plan helps you keep everyone informed so that you can communicate a consistent message to your target audience.”
Method 123 Ltd further advises on when a communications plan should be used:
- “Whenever you have a variety of staff, external suppliers, customers and stakeholders to communicate with, then you should record your communications formally in a Communication Plan.
- A clear Communications Plan is vital to the success of an organization. It is also critical to the success of projects, as it ensures that all of the staff and stakeholders are kept properly informed of the progress of a project.
- The best time to perform Communication Planning is during the start up phase of a project. This will ensure your Communication Plan includes the tasks needed to communicate effectively throughout the entire project life cycle.”