Developing a
Communications Plan
for Public Outreach
Wendy Madsen
Legislative Information Officer
Wyoming Legislative Service Office
Why do you need
to develop a
“Luck is where
preparation meets
- Seneca, Roman philosopher
Plan Template
 You can use this template to create
your own communications plan
 Focus on the elements of the
plan throughout the workshop
 Use template to help focus outreach
 Delete gray capitalized “help” text
 Template provides click boxes in
brackets [text] for you to complete
Components of a
Communications Plan
 SWOT Analysis
 Audience Identification
 Goals and Objectives
 Communications Tools and Strategies
 Key Messages
 Branding and Identity
 Crisis Communications
 Plan Measurement and Timeline
Section 1
Executive Summary
 Provides an overview of your plan
 Limit to one page
 Helps you focus on overall priorities
Section 2
SWOT Analysis
 Strengths
 Weaknesses
 Opportunities
 Threats
SWOT Analysis
Examples of Strengths
 Passion for the institution
 Strong print media ties
 Understanding of new technology
What are your communications strengths?
SWOT Analysis
Examples of Weaknesses
 Limited staff
 Limited financial resources
 Weak media ties
What are your communications weaknesses?
SWOT Analysis
Examples of Opportunities
 Public believes that more should be done to teach
young people about representative democracy
 Constituents in my district have expressed interest
in being more involved in their government
 There is a renewed interest in covering
legislative proceedings by broadcast media
What are your communications opportunities?
SWOT Analysis
Examples of Threats
 Other organizations are overshadowing
our messages and we are not being heard
 Turnover of members is reducing the
organization’s institutional memory
 Print media has reduced the amount of
government coverage in its newspapers
What are your communications threats?
Section 3
Audience Identification
Who are you trying
to reach with your
Primary Audience
 Youth ages 13 to 18
 National print media
 Local business leaders
Identify three audiences that you will target
with directed communications efforts
Secondary Audience
 Educational institutions and teachers
 Local print media
 Local civic leaders
Identify three audiences that will benefit from
targeted activities to your primary audiences
Other Stakeholder
 Political party leadership
 Parliamentary leadership
 Parliamentary staff
Who needs to support your plan for you to
implement your communications objectives?
Section 4
Goals and Objectives
What do you want to
accomplish through your
communications plan?
Quebec National Assembly
Communication Objectives
 The Assembly wants to increase the percentage of
citizens who are familiar with its mission
 The Assembly wants to help people better
understand the work and role of members
 The Assembly wants to promote increased
citizen participation in its parliamentary
proceedings and activities
Develop three communications objectives
that you would like to accomplish this year
Section 5
Strategies and Tools
What specific strategies will
you use to achieve your goals?
What tasks do you need to
complete as part of your strategies?
What tools are available to help
you meet your goals?
Goals and Strategies
Instead of: Do better at communicating with media
Try: Conduct two briefings for reporters each month
Instead of: Meet with my constituents
Try: Hold 10 town meetings throughout district in 2008
Instead of: Get 100 percent of voters to click on Web site
Try: Increase Web site hits by 10 percent in 2008
Instead of: Use all methods of technology to communicate
Try: Develop and promote blog to inform constituents
Instead of: Produce annual report for constituents
Try: Distribute annual report one month after adjourning
Examples of
Communications Tools
 Direct mail
 News releases
 Flyers/posters
 News conferences
 Brochures
 Newspaper columns
 Annual reports
 Mass E-mail updates
 Speaking engagements
 Web sites
 Community meetings
 Blogs
 Focus groups
 Podcasts/webcasts
 Newsletters
 Text message blasts
Communications Tools
 Remember your audience when you think about
what tools to use.
 Does your audience have the technology to use
your preferred tools?
 Low-tech communications tools can be just as
effective, if not more effective, than high-tech tools!
Develop strategies and tools to meet your
goals and objectives outlined in Section 4
Section 6
Key Messages
What messages do you
want to communicate?
Why do you need
key messages?
“Someone is
going to edit
what you say.
It might as well
be you.”
- Gerard Braud, media trainer
What is a key message?
 Clearly and concisely tells who you are,
what you do, and why they should care
 Helps organize your thoughts and avoid rambling
 Helps you stay “on message” and remember
your supporting points
 Answers questions you wish you had been asked
 Should be no longer than two sentences
Key Message
 Imagine a university that changes
people’s lives for the better
 Every day in coastal Louisiana,
33 football fields of land disappear
 NCSL is the forum for America’s ideas
Develop no more than three key messages for
each topic that you want to include in your plan
How to Use
Key Messages
 Repeat your key messages in all of your
communications (print, broadcast, online)
 Control the direction of conversation
by bridging back to your key messages
 When at a loss for words, go back to your
key messages … they are your safe harbor
Section 7
Branding and Identity
Does the public
know who you are?
Do they instantly recognize
information you provide?
What image do you convey to the
public and is it what you want?
Section 7
Branding and Identity
Just do it.
The Uncola.
Don’t leave home without it.
It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.
Section 7
Branding and Identity
 Official logo of the
Wyoming Legislature
 Used in all print and
online resources
 Includes font and
color standards
Section 8
Crisis Communications
When a crisis happens, how do you
plan to restore public confidence?
Can you ensure that the public
receives timely and accurate
information in a crisis?
A Crisis Can Come
in All Shapes and Sizes
A crisis is defined as an
emergency or situation that
can affect the integrity,
reputation, public confidence of
(the institution, party, member)
and/or that has the potential to
disrupt the normal course of
A Crisis Can Come
in All Shapes and Sizes
What qualifies as a crisis?
Can you provide some
Crisis Communications
 Create a crisis planning team
 Identify potential crises and
develop action plans
 Periodically practice, evaluate
and revise the plan
Develop a couple of crisis scenarios and an
action plan to go along with each scenario
It’s Called a Crisis
for a Reason
Structure your action plan so that it:
 Can be picked up by anyone in your organization
and used in a crisis in case you are not available
 Has detailed information, including all possible phone
numbers, contact lists, and easy-to-follow procedures
 Is available offsite, even on a separate server,
and it should also be available in paper form
Section 9
Plan Measurement
“What gets measured gets done” - Tom Peters
“One of the great mistakes is to judge
policies and programs by their intentions
rather than their results” - Milton Friedman
“Everything that can be counted does not
necessarily count; everything that counts
cannot necessarily be counted” - Albert Einstein
Examples of Plan
Measurement Tools
 Internal surveys
 Online surveys
 Web hits
 Newspaper clippings
 Number of news releases
How do you plan to measure whether or not
you are achieving your communications goals?
Section 10
Plan Timeline
“Goals are dreams
with deadlines”
- Diana Scharf Hunt
Why plan?
“In the field
of observation,
chance favors only
the prepared mind”
- Louis Pasteur
Thank you for
this opportunity
to share ideas
Wendy Madsen
Legislative Information Officer
Wyoming Legislative Service Office
213 State Capitol
Cheyenne, WY, USA 82002
Telephone: (307) 777-7881

Developing a Communications Plan for