Developing a Communication Plan for Innovation Efforts

Overview (What):

A Communication Plan establishes a framework to identify and communicate objectives/priorities, key audiences, messages, outcomes, communication channels and measures of effectiveness.

IMPORTANT: Consult with your PA office to begin developing your communication plan

Objectives (Why):

  • Create buy-in and inspire support for innovation efforts and culture
  • Craft appropriate messaging for key audiences
  • Ensure quality and consistency of messaging
  • Influence knowledge, attitudes and behaviors
  • Identify stakeholders, influencers and audiences

How to Guide:


What are you trying to communicate and why? It is always best when you can link communication objectives to your organization’s lines of effort to illustrate the priorities you are supporting.


  • Connect Airmen with a community of people who can help them solve problems
  • Create buy-in and inspire support for innovation efforts and culture
  • Empower Airmen to engage and leaders to take smart risks
  • Educate Airmen, Supervisors and Commanders on how to use innovation pathways/capabilities to achieve their objectives
  • Inspire an entrepreneurial and problem-solving mindset

Stakeholders/Key Audiences (Who):

For your messages to be effective, you first have to know your audience. Who are you communicating to/with? Be as specific as you can. If your audience has sub-audiences who care about different things list them out. Really think about this. What do they care about? What is their current level of knowledge and engagement with you? Why should they care about what you are doing? What problems do they face that you can help them solve?


  • Senior Leaders
  • Intrapreneurs/Airmen
  • Units/Organizations
  • Industry Partners


What messages do you want each of your audiences to take away from your communication? A message should evoke an emotion, a reason why they should care. Always ask yourself, “So what?” In order to craft messages that resonate with your audience, you must know what makes them tick. Find common ground between disparate groups and focus on those (genuine empathy and similarity builds trust). Keep your messaging simple, concise and repeatable. Deliver your messages in a conversational manner.


  • Failure is learning, so learn fast to move forward
    • You can’t learn from mistakes without making them
  • Work together to find a way to get to YES
    • Find “NO” and kill it
  • Your ideas matter
  • Every Airman can create the change they want to see
  • Coaches/mentors are available to help you


What results are you looking to achieve with your communication? As much as possible, develop outcomes that can be measured.


  • Advocacy
  • Senior Leader Support
  • Buy-in and a sense of ownership
  • Funding
  • Transition of idea to execution
  • Develop understanding of “Why?”

Communication channels

Determine the best mediums/platforms for delivering your messages. Think about where/how your audiences receive their information. Which platforms evoke a sense of trust with your audience?


  • Websites
  • Press Releases
  • AF New Stories
  • Blogs
  • Monthly Newsletters
  • Monthly Senior Leader Updates
  • Speaking Engagements
  • IdeaScale
  • Air Force Portal
  • Slack Workspaces
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Email Campaigns
  • AF Connect
  • Social Media
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Instagram
    • Linkedin
    • YouTube

Measures of effectiveness

How do you know what you are doing is working? Are you reaching your target audience? Your PA office will help you identify these measures.


  • Surveys
  • Focus Groups
  • Social Media Metrics
  • Mainstream Media Metrics
  • Vector Data
  • Sentiment Analysis of Media Coverage
  • Level of Involvement and Awareness


  • Most Important: Your Public Affairs Office
  • Command Priorities/Lines of Effort
  • AFWERX Website (and other innovation community websites)
  • Innovation Handbook
  • Communication Plans from other Spark Cells or innovation communities/organizations