Crafting a Communications Plan that Works
Tips for Writing a Strategic Communications Plan

By Ben Strumwasser, Principal, CirclePoint

The funding is in place, design work is complete and your project is finally on track. Before you break ground, it’s essential that you think strategically about how you’re going to communicate about the project, particularly to the local residents and businesses that construction will affect. It’s not a one-size-fits-all exercise. Strategies and tactics that may have worked for other projects may not be appropriate for this project. Again and again, we see the enormous benefit that comes from taking the time upfront to develop a strategic communications plan that is tailored to a specific project before the construction begins.

A good strategic communications plan starts with the thorough identification of who your audience is and what their issues and concerns are. This helps you anticipate potential stumbling blocks so you can avoid or minimize them before they occur. Putting a plan in place means key stakeholders, like elected officials and staff, are never caught unaware of new activities and developments. Residents are kept informed and have an outlet for their complaints. Reporters and bloggers understand the project and help you communicate about it. Having a plan propels you out of reactive mode and puts you in control of telling your story.

How to get started? Below are some key considerations that will help you develop an effective strategic plan for communications before, during and after construction.

Set yourself up for success

Communicate effectively during construction

Celebrate project completion

To learn about how one agency implemented a successful strategic communications plan, please see the companion case study that documents the closure of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge during reconstruction in September of 2009.

About the Author

Ben Strumwasser has more than 22 years of experience developing and managing strategic communications for infrastructure projects. CirclePoint has managed communications for infrastructure projects including the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Seismic Retrofit, Presidio Parkway, and Caldecott Fourth Bore.