Communications General

Developing A Communications Plan

on
February 6, 2013

As Communications Director here at West Ridge Church, I oversee our internal and external communications through our web, video, print, design, social media, marketing, and sunday messaging/announcements. At a big church with tons of incredible things happening each week, that can be a lot to keep up with!

To help map out and plan what is being communicated through our various mediums each week, I use a Google doc spreadsheet called Communications Plan.

What Does It Cover?

  • SERVICE PLAN
    • Date, Series, Topic, Announcements & Next Steps, Videos, Calendar, Worship Guide, Announcement Loop, Email
    • The focus of the Sunday Plan tab for us is to keep track of what’s being communicated during a service. For churches, Sundays (or weekends) are the biggest opportunity we have to share what God is doing in and through the church. It’s vital to be strategic about how you use that time and not try to communicate too many things. This Service Plan helps me map out what the key next steps are each week and how/where they are being communicated.
  • PROJECTS
    • Start Date, Finish Date, Priority, Project, Project Type, Key Dates/Milestones, Elements, People, Notes
    • This is where I keep a running list of current and future projects. As I hear about something in a meeting, or know a big event is coming, this helps keep me on track so I can build timelines and project milestones to get things done and not fall behind.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA
    • Date, Day, Announcements & Next Steps, Calendar, Notes & Instructions, Spots for: Facebook Posts, Twitter Posts
    • We have a point person for Facebook & Twitter. I put notes and instructions for each week on things that need to be communicated through social media. Beyond that, they have a lot of freedom to promote, engage and encourage our church through social media. We use this document to write and plan the posts, and then they get scheduled with HootSuite.
  • WEBSITE
    • Date, Series, Announcements & Next Steps, Sunday Videos, Calendar, Banners, Home Blocks, Blog
    • This helps me map out what is going where on the website, and build a plan for designing graphics/content that will be on the site.

Tips & Ideas

  • Before each week begins, I look through and update this doc to map out priorities for the week and delegate projects/tasks.
  • Each week, we try to focus on one to two key next steps. Those next steps are usually things that apply to the majority of the church. The next steps are what we focus on for stage announcements, are represented on our home page of the website, promoted on social media, and are on the worship guide. It’s important that those next steps are represented during that week in each of your communication mediums so that people who were not there on Sunday still know what’s going on.
  • As I get Communication Requests from ministries (blog post coming on this later), I map out how we’re going to be promoting that ministry/event here in all the various mediums. Then, I communicate back to the ministry team on the communications plan is for the ministry/event.
  • This year, I started meeting with each ministry area to map out their big events, on-ramps to ministry, and project needs. That info is then mapped out on this Communications Plan for the year.
  • Just because you plan it one way doesn’t mean you can’t deviate from it. Become a customer advocate here and use the filter of what’s best for the person sitting in the seat looking to engage with your church. Talking for 15 minutes at the end of the service isn’t going to help anybody engage and take their next step.

Free Resource

If you don’t already have something like this, I’ve made a blank template available for download. Feel free to use it and adjust it to your needs.

What’s your method for mapping out a communications plan? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Download Communications Plan Template

Free Resource

Download
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Phil Bowdle
Atlanta, GA