How to Develop
a Communications Plan


How to Develop
a Communications Plan

Sample Plan 1
from PRSA

Sample Plan 2
from ARA

Sample Plan 3
from King County Library System

New: Sample Plan 4
from "Any County" School System

Crisis Communication Quick Reference

Sample Plan 3:
Contributed by the King County Library System

Click here to download this document in Winword format.

Summer Reading Program

Strategic Communication Plan

The purposes of this plan:

To provide a blueprint for comprehensive communications and public relations support for a successful combined summer reading program To articulate communications objectives for the Summer Reading Program

To identify appropriate communications opportunities and plan strategic content for effective promotion materials

Communication objectives: To promote and increase public awareness of the KCLS summer reading program and enhance the perception of KCLS as a valuable resource by:

Providing KCLS staff with the information and tools they need to successfully support and promote the unified SRP to patrons of all ages

Providing patrons with attractive, easy-to-read, easy-to-understand printed materials that motivate them to participate in the program

Working with print and electronic media to emphasize the importance of reading as a community value that affects quality of life

Stressing the role of active practice as a key to maintaining and enhancing reading and learning skills

Developing and distributing timely, effective publicity, news and feature articles about the SRP and KCLS



KCLS traditionally conducted two separate summer reading programs with different graphics, different themes and different operation procedures: one program for children up to 12 years old, and a different program for young adults from 12 to 18. Adult programs were few and autonomous, without formal graphic continuity and concentrated marketing support. There have been limited opportunities for multi-age programming attractive to participants of all ages. Until 1996, the Children's and Young Adult library staff have been solely responsible for implementing their individual programs. The rest of the library staff have not had the responsibility -- or the opportunity -- to actively support and participate in the summer programs


KCLS summer reading programs have been enthusiastically enjoyed by participants, praised and supported by their parents.

With separate graphic identities (Children's, YA, KCLS and other library logos) competing with each other for attention, media use of program graphics has been limited. The most successful media coverage has been in the programming and community calendar sections of pant and electronic media. News and feature placement have been most successful in community newspapers.

The desired situation


The unified program offers opportunities for patrons of all ages to enjoy a wide range of structured and individual summer learning activities. Broader staff participation increases the number of opportunities to encourage participation and help more patrons enjoy the program.

All KCLS staff will share in program support activities, spreading the workload -- and the fun -- between a larger number of employees.

A single theme and graphic identity for an inclusive program increases the likelihood of media use of the program logo in promotion, increasing visibility and recognition for SRP.
Increased news and feature coverage in print and electronic media will provide a higher level of visibility for the summer program and for KCLS.


Participants of all ages will take an active interest in the program, and turn in one entry postcard for each book read. The combined program -- and single logo -- for KCLS, SPL, TPL and Sno-Isle will magnify media coverage by reducing competition for coverage of different library programs. Promotion to the media about programs and activities will include information on the importance of reading skills, the vital role literacy plays in the economic health of the region, and the valuable role summer reading programs play in enhancing reading abilities. Stories about Planet Read and related activities will be included in Seattle dailies, radio and TV news

Vital Factors

To be successful -- and enjoyable for staff and patrons -- the combined summer reading program requires:
  • Positive attitude and a feeling of ownership by all staff
  • Easy access -- and cheerful help -- for patrons.
  • Emphasis on involvement for patrons of all ages, with particular focus on attracting adults as new participants.
  • Wide publicity to make information about the program available all across the service area

Staff new to SRP responsibilities may benefit from increased internal communication about the program and its implementation.

Staff who have been involved in previous, age-specific programs may benefit from increased internal communication about the reasons for combining the programs, and the key changes over previous summer programs.

Adult patrons are not accustomed to having a summer program open for them. They may require special attention to "sell" them on the idea of participating.

Staff and all communication materials need to explain -- clearly and simply --the program components: reading, completing one postcard for every book read to enter weekly and grand prize drawings, participating in the events and programs.

Key strategic issues


To enlist staff support and build enthusiasm by:
Making the program easy to understand and simple to administer
Creating great graphics and attractive program materials
Providing adequate quantities of program materials, a simple order process and timely delivery
Providing a great-looking, free T-shirt that fits
Making it possible for staff to purchase additional T-shirts if they wish
Encouraging creativity in implementing the program
Giving credit and praise for successes

To create an appealing, timely, effective promotion campaign an enjoyable, active summer program
Emphasize the value of reading and the cost of illiteracy in cover letter and press kit to news and feature editors and public service directors for all news media.

KING TV has agreed to continue their support of KCLS summer reading by producing and airing special PSA promotions.
KING personalities also will read aloud at the libraries.
KIRO Radio has agreed to promote KCLS and the summer reading program on KIRO, as well as affiliate stations KNWX and The BUZZ.
The Seattle Times will conduct a summer reading contest in conjunction with Planet Read, to encourage students to read newspapers.

Target Audiences:


Designated staff (Children's, YA, Adult)
All other library staff
Friends of the Libraries


Participants -- former, current and potential
General public -- of all ages and interests


Literacy organizations
Community organizations
Cities in KCLS service area

Radio and Television
Talk shows
Public service announcements
Cable stations

Key Messages

Planet Read:
It's fun!
It's simple!
It's free! It's right in your neighborhood! It gives you new ideas for great things to do!
It's for everyone
It's interesting and informative
It's valuable, and relevant to your life!

The summer reading program is here to help make learning a joyful activity -- to help enrich your life, build new skills, meet new friends, learn new things

Reading is rewarding -- you can even win prizes! Reading is also smart, good for you, and beneficial to the whole community

Your King County Library System offers great free fun for everyone. KCLS is here to help you find what you're looking for, to provide information and entertainment at no charge Media Plan


PTA newsletter copy and ad slicks Jan 13


Copy/logo ad slicks for summer calendars/monthlies April 7


Radio PSAs distributed May 1
Poster distribution May 1
Planet Read preview in Omnibus The News May 5
Press releases for kickoff with cover letter to editors May 15
Planet Read Web page up May 15


Feature on SRP in The News
Updated public service announcements to radio stations June 2
Weekly press releases to newspapers June 2
KING-TV/Education In Action PSAs June 2
PR Newswire release June 9
Fax special releases on key programs to photo editors June 11


SRP Update in The News July 1
Weekly press releases -- with photos of activities July 1
Fax special releases on key programs to photo editors July 1


SRP Update in The News August 1
SRP Grand Prize drawing August 25
SRP final press release timed for Labor Day Weekend August 28

Background information:

Summer reading program philosophy:
  • To encourage people of all ages to read and to increase awareness of King County Library System services
  • To provide an appealing fun active summer program for participants of all ages that will:
    • Encourage love of reading and lifelong learning
    • Provide free fun enjoyable informative activities and programs for individuals and families
    • Build participants' self-esteem through personal reading
    • Encourage retention and improvement of reading skills
    • Help focus community interest in reading and leaning and help participants develop a sense of belonging to a community
    • Promote a positive image of the King County Library System in the communities we serve

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Questions or comments? Email Robin Mayhall