Numerous communications planning models exist, each consisting of a similar set of sequential steps. The table below lists some of the key considerations and decisions at each stage. For step-by-step guidance, see the excellent communications planning guides listed on the Strategy Resources page. Also see Tips for Messaging Strategically for helpful hints.



Assess the current situation as well as your overall mission and goals: What does the problem look like in your context? What is occurring versus what should be occurring? How are you working to solve the problem?


WHY message?

Set communication objectives: How can messaging advance your broader mission and goals? What specific changes do you expect in the audience after they see the messages? 


WHO to influence?

What specific audience(s) do you need to reach with messages to achieve your objectives? (Note that sometimes it’s more effective to target messages to another group who can influence the population of interest.)


To DO what?

What concrete, realistic actions do you want your audience to take?


WHAT to say?

What content will increase the likelihood that THIS audience will perform THIS behavior?


HOW to reach them?

What delivery channels best fit your audience and message? What do they read/watch/listen to? How do they get trusted information? What other efforts are needed to help them change?



How will you monitor and assess whether your messages worked?