How To Write A Good Communications Plan – Part 10 – Tactics

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.”
– Peter Drucker

You know your goals; you know what you’re saying; you know who you’re talking to. You need to decide how to say it.

How are you going to reach the audiences you’ve selected?


It may help if you think of your announcement in three stages – pre-announcement, announcement and post-announcement:

  • Pre-announcement – how will you pre-condition stakeholders/shareholders/consumers/the media ahead of your announcement?
  • Announcement – how will you roll-out the initiative?
  • Post-announcement – how will you sustain coverage after the announcement?


Chess pieces Just as all of the other sections of your plan fit together (your analysis flows into your goals and objectives, your stakeholders flow into your audiences, your strategy feeds off your objectives and so on) your tactics need to fit with your strategy.

If you’ve opted for a high-profile, proactive strategy, your tactics should clearly be very different to if you’ve selected a low-profile, reactive approach. Did you decide to communicate through the media, to/through stakeholders or directly to consumers?

Also consider your context and environmental scan – do you need to raise awareness of the topic in the media before you make your announcement?

If you follow the planning process properly, the process itself will help you to do this. By putting your tactics near the end of the process, you force yourself to consider the initiative from every possible angle. That means you’re less likely to default to a (possibly) inappropriate news release and/or media event without thinking it through.


Make sure you address all of your plan’s audiences. Check and double-check that you aren’t missing an important group.

A particularly useful tip: create a table with your audiences down the left side and your proposed tactics along the top. Check-off which tactics hit which audiences. Make sure you address each audience with two or three tactics.

Tactics vs audiences

If you see that you aren’t addressing all of your key audiences, go back and consider how you can.

Tactical options

Here are a few options to consider for the various stages. Remember that many of these may require their own plans:

  • Story placements – proactive pitching; matte articles
  • Mentions in other announcements/events
  • Media event
  • Regional announcements
  • Speeches
  • Paper products – news release, backgrounder, fact sheet
  • Brochure, flier
  • White paper
  • Follow-up announcements – milestones, results, openings
  • Stakeholder consultations or events
  • Letters to stakeholders
  • Advertising – TV/radio/print/out-of-home/online
  • Social media outreach

How do you go about planning your tactics?

The “Communications Plan” Series

This is post number ten in a series of 13 posts exploring how to create a good communications plan. To read more of the series, check out the other posts here.

8 Responses toHow To Write A Good Communications Plan – Part 10 – Tactics

  • Dave – this is a fantastic series of posts you’re doing and i’m sure the student/entry level PR community thanks you from the bottom of their hearts. i know i’ve picked up some invaluable tips from reading your posts.

    the only thing i’d take issue with, over the whole series, is the fact that online communications, in general, aren’t being addressed. in today’s online world, you really need to be integrating your on- and off-line communications strategies together. whether it’s having a microsite, email newsletter, online editorial outreach, social media news release or whatever. if what you’re communicating is important enough to have a communications plan, it should be important enough to have an online presence – internally or externally.


  • Ed, I think you’re spot-on. The important part of your comment is “integrating.” From my perspective, online communications should be integrated throughout – from your context and environmental scan capturing online activities, to considering online audiences, to including social media outreach in your tactics (I really could have worded that far better, to include other online tactics).

    What specifically would you add/remove/amend?

  • well, from my ultra-biased standpoint, i would include online from the start. from the context (see what has been said about the organization in the past) to the environment (key success factors/online media coverage/search results) to stakeholders (are there online communities of employees/customers/investors?) to objectives (search/reputation management/increased coverage) to strategy and audiences (who are you trying to communicate to and where are they?).

    after the up front work the more tactical things will follow – will you need different announcements for different audiences? will the messages be different in tone for on-/off-line? what tactics can be used to hit up audiences at lease twice?

    one last thing: it seems that a lot of people are increasingly confusing social media with online – social media is a subset (an important subset but a subset nonetheless) of online or digital, not the other way round.


  • Thanks Ed… great points

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