When you have information you want to share with your target audience, it’s time to get everyone together to develop an effective communications plan.

Commmunications Planning is typically the purview of senior management, but there are other groups that should be involved as well.

No one organization can be an expert in all aspects of commmunications planning, especially in an integrated campaign that includes everything from print ads to social media contests and website optimization.

In order to have an effective communication plan, you need to ensure that all appropriate organizational stakeholders are involved in the communication process and ensure you have buy-in from all of them before you implement the plan.

These stakeholders can be difficult to identify, so we’ve broken down the most common types of organization stakeholders below and provided ways to get their input into your communications plan.

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Which Organizations Should Be Involved in Commmunications Planning?

The best answer to this question is “all the stakeholders in the organization are to be involved in commmunications planning”. Every organization has two types of organization stakeholders, these are internal stakeholders and external stakeholders.

Internal stakeholders are those individuals within your organization who will directly benefit from your communication plan while external stakeholders are those individuals outside of your organization who will indirectly benefit from your communication plan.

diagram illustration of which organizations should be involved in commmunications planning?
Source: Wikipedia

When creating a communications plan, you’ll want to consider both groups of stakeholders and how they can help or hinder your efforts.

Once you know which groups of people will be impacted by your communications efforts, you can determine what kind of involvement they might need to achieve desired results.

Your goal is to get buy-in from as many key players as possible—the more buy-in you have, the better chance you have for success!

The first step in getting stakeholder input is to identify them.

Start with a list of everyone inside your organization who might be affected by your plans; then identify others on an outside list.

  • Who will receive information?
  • Who needs information?
  • Who has influence over other stakeholders?
  • Who else do you need to think about including?

This is what you should ask yourself to brainstorm ideas

  • What types of communications do we use regularly?
  • Are there any special interest groups I could target with our message?
  • Do we have contacts at community centers, schools, libraries, religious institutions or non-profit organizations that would be interested in helping us spread our message and/or getting volunteers on board?
  • Is there anyone in my network I can ask for advice?
  • How can I make sure these people are involved—and buy into what we’re doing—from day one?

The answer is twofold:

  1. First, give your key players as much advance notice as possible so they can become familiar with your plan before it’s implemented.
  2. Second, involve them early and often throughout each phase of implementation so they feel like they’re part of something important.

You want to make sure they know how their role fits into the big picture—and why it matters! One way to get buy-in from key players is through strategic partnerships.

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What is Communication Planning?

When we decide a message is so important that we need to talk about it to over one person, we call it communicating. And when multiple people from one organization plan a message together, then we call it communication planning.

Communication planning is a vital and often neglected step of communications management and requires teamwork between many areas of an organization.

When organizations want their messages to be heard and understood they can’t neglect communication planning.

commmunication planning process


To maximize impact by identifying objectives before choosing channels—and making sure those channels reach your target audience, you must plan your messaging strategy.

The right mix of channels such as print ads, direct mail pieces, email blasts or social media posts; will depend on what you want to achieve with your message.

For example, if you’re trying to get new customers for your business, digital marketing might be best.

But if you want to keep current customers and keep them coming back for more products or services, targeted emails might work better.

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Who are Organizational Stakeholders?

There are two types of stakeholders that you need to consider when doing your communications planning:

  • internal stakeholders, and
  • external stakeholders

Internal stakeholders include employees, trade union representatives and activists while External stakeholders include partners, governments, customers and supporters.

Each group has a different understanding of what a business does so it is important to consider their opinions.

For example, a company that sells mining equipment may want to tell its financiers about new products whereas it will probably want to keep information about health and safety allegations from other companies confidential because it doesn’t want to damage its reputation with external parties.


diagram illustration of organization stakeholders


Internal Stakeholder

Employees within your company will also require information for their jobs.

While it isn’t necessary to communicate with every employee at once, regular communications are key to ensuring everyone has what they need for their position.

Within departments that work together frequently—such as customer service and marketing—regular meetings should be scheduled so team members stay on top of each other’s tasks without constant communication via email or instant messaging.

It’s important to start all commmunications planning process with internal stakeholders.

You want your plan to be based on an understanding of your organization’s priorities and challenges, after all.

This means having at least one discussion with someone from every department or division of your company, including marketing, public relations, social media, investor relations, community relations and so on.

When identifying internal stakeholders it is critical that you speak with individuals who are both high-level (i.e., directors or managers) and low-level (i.e., junior team members).

It is also a good idea to have a conversation with staff members at all levels of seniority – upper management may not see what average employees are concerned about as they plan communication strategies for different initiatives.

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The internal stakeholders breakdown.


1. The Employee:

Employees are often overlooked when it comes to communications planning, but they should be involved from day one.

After all, employees are your company’s most valuable asset and key drivers of success.

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They know what is going on within their departments and across other areas of your organization — they’re a valuable source of information and insight that can help you create more effective communication strategies.


2. The Managers:

Managers are an important part of your communications planning process because they often have a better understanding of what is going on within their departments than senior management does.

This is particularly true when it comes to communication challenges that need to be addressed — managers are likely to be aware of issues with internal and external communications, as well as other problems that could impact your company’s success if left unaddressed.


3. The Owners:

Your organization’s owners are another important group of stakeholders to include in your communications planning process.

As you develop plans for different initiatives, you’ll want to make sure that your organization’s owners are on board and understand how their goals align with those of other departments within your company.

If they don’t see a connection between their goals and yours, they may not support your efforts or take action on what you’re doing — even if it is something that will help them achieve their own objectives.


External Stakeholders

Your customers, your community, your company’s investors, media analysts and reporters and other external stakeholders all have their own communication needs.

The best way to meet these requirements is by communicating regularly with them.

This can be accomplished through press releases, public speeches from executives and more. Here are organizational external stakeholders.


1. Suppliers:

These are companies that sell products and services to your organization.

Suppliers can be a source of information about new trends, competitors and other market-related information that is valuable to your organization’s success.


2. Society:

These are organizations that your organization interacts with, such as local community groups and trade associations.

It is important to keep these organizations informed about what your organization is doing so they can share it with their members and constituents.

For example, if you are a large employer in a community, you might want to share job openings with local schools or offer internships to students at local colleges.


3. Government:

These are government agencies that regulate your industry or local, state and federal government officials who may be interested in your organization’s success.

Communicating with these groups helps them understand what your organization is doing and why it is important to their constituents.

For example, if you are a large employer, you might want to provide information about how many jobs you have created or discuss how tax revenues have increased as a result of your organization’s success.

This type of communication helps ensure that regulators see you as an asset rather than a burden to their constituency.


4. Creditors:

These are organizations that provide financing to your organization, such as banks and other lending institutions.

Your organization may need to borrow money or issue bonds at some point.

In order to do so, you will need a good relationship with creditors so they can be confident about lending money to your organization.

This means keeping them informed about what is going on at your organization and being responsive when they have questions about your financial situation.

For example, if you are a publicly traded company, provide quarterly reports of how business is going so investors can see how their investment is doing and decide about whether they want to continue investing in your company’s stock.

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5. Shareholders:

These are organizations that own stock in your organization, such as individual investors and large institutions.

This group includes a lot of different stakeholders, including stock analysts who follow your company’s performance and write reports about it for other investors, as well as large shareholders who may have more direct influence over how your organization is run.

Communicating with these groups helps them understand what is going on at your organization so they can make decisions about whether or not they want to continue investing in it or sell their shares to someone else.


6. Customers:

These are organizations that buy your organization’s products or services, such as individual consumers and businesses.

Communicating with customers helps them understand what is going on at your organization so they can make decisions about whether or not they want to continue doing business with you.

For example, if you are a retail store, you might want to provide information about new product lines so shoppers know what is available and why they should come back to your store instead of going somewhere else for their shopping needs.

This type of communication also lets customers know how much value they are getting from doing business with your organization and why it is important for them to continue doing so.



If you’re interested in communications planning and want to bring together lots of different people from across your organization, make sure you’re clearly aligned on your goals.

Otherwise, you might spend more time battling internal politics than moving forward with your plans.

Communication planning is a good way to get people talking about their jobs and create consensus around what needs to be done for success.

If everyone understands why he or she should work toward a goal (and how it ties into broader organizational goals), there will be less resistance when it comes time to make decisions and implement projects—which is exactly what communications planning is all about.

To begin communications planning, you must first define what a company considers good or successful communications.

  • What is it that they want to communicate?
  • How do they want to be perceived?

Once these questions are answered, it will be easier to determine which organization should be involved.

Research also shows that CEOs perceive successful internal communication as effective handling of crises while employees see successful internal communication as an active program directed at them and informing them about things such as changes in compensation packages or new programs coming down the pike.

So, when answering these questions, consider how each stakeholder group defines success.


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