Communications Strategy

These resources will help you lay the foundation for a strong communications strategy for your small museum or historic site.

Making a Communications Strategy


Students at SWAT

According to KnowHowNonProfit, “a communications strategy is designed to help you and your organization communicate effectively and meet core organizational objectives.” Their site offers a step-by-step guide that directs the communications strategy writing process. It breaks down writing the statement of purpose, assessing the current strategy, and identifying organizational goals, among other important factors to consider when creating a communications strategy.

The Colorado Nonprofit Association provides a comprehensive three-part Communications Toolkit (PDF).  Part I covers the Principles and Practices for establishing communications guidelines. Strategies for planning and a list of communications tools are provided.  Part 2 is a 15 page document of FAQS regarding copyright, starting a media campaign, and creating an effective press list.  There are worksheets to help you define the audience, draft a message, and identify media channels.  Part 3 is a 25 page document of samples.

The Centre for First Nations Governance created a workbook (PDF) that will help you develop a communications plan beginning with determining your goal, defining the audience, developing the message, choosing the channel, implementation, and evaluation.

Unsure how to deal with a crisis that arises for your institution? The Colorado Nonprofit Association provides this Crisis Communication Plan: Nonprofit Toolkit (PDF) to help you to develop a strategy during a crisis.  The toolkit includes a checklist from the first step of ensuring safety of all parties, guidelines for responding to the media, as well as information evaluating the effectiveness of your crisis communication plan.  A sample Emergency Phone Tree is provided.

Press Releases

Geoffrey James from CBS News: MoneyWatch explains how to write a press release at this link. His top suggestions? Think like a salesperson, the press release is communicating a message to a perspective audience, make the information appealing. Also, remember that press releases with cluttered wording risk losing readers, especially when the information provided isn’t relevant. He provides examples, which can be viewed here and here.

The website, TheBalance, lists a sample press release for non-profit institutions. It considers the importance of content as well as format in its example.

Public Service Announcements

The Community Tool Box contains a section about public service announcements for television and radio. If you are thinking of using a PSA for your institution, these guidelines include instructions about writing, producing, and getting the announcement on the air.


Screenshot from The Community Tool Box. PSA time chart, based on number of words included in announcement.

The Center for Digital Education wrote a guide to assist with creating an effective public service announcement for film.  It suggests finding a topic, gathering background information, considering the target audience, creating a script and storyboard, and filming and editing the project.