This planning your activities section looks at the process of putting your ideas into a coherent implementation plan and provides you with a mechanism to ensure that all activities are completed on time and within budget.
Firstly, you need to ensure your communications plan dovetails with any operational activity that is planned such as the launch of new collections. Then the plan needs to take account of any national activities with which your communications could link in order to generate added media and public interest. Once all these key dates have been timetabled you can schedule all your communication activities and tactics. At the same time you need to obtain costings for all the communications activities and materials in order to develop your budget.
The length of your plan will depend on how far into the future you need to plan and how far you can accurately forecast your budget levels and make reasonable planning decisions. In most cases the best approach is to plan and review communication activities over a 12 month cycle although occasionally, for short campaigns, your plan may only need to cover a few months. It is a good idea though to have an overall strategy that covers 2-3 years, though you do not need have prepared detailed plans for that length of time. Finally, you should consider the level of detail for different people:
- A simple overview of the main activities, timescales, deliverables and outcomes for senior managers and other key stakeholders
- A much more detailed version which you and your team will use on a day-to-day basis
In terms of the format for your plan, Excel or specialised software programmes such as Microsoft Project can be useful in developing a visual representation of activities in the form of Gantt charts.
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