Internal Communications Strategy

The essential guide for creating successful internal communications plans

Your Free Internal Communication Strategy Template

An internal communications strategy defines business goals in communicating with staff and plans the activities to achieve these goals. It's the blueprint guiding you to internal communications success. Creating this strategy involves some work but there are clearly defined steps to follow along the way.

We’ve developed a four-step process for creating your own custom internal communications strategy – whatever your organization’s size or sector.

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Step 1. Where Are You Now?

Start by analyzing the current situation – your audiences, influences and existing communications performance.

  • Audiences - Collect information on the composition of your organization. This should include number of staff, locations, departments, demographics, devices used and any other factors related to your organizational structure. This information can then be used later for audience segmentation to deliver targeted, highly relevant messages – key to achieving greater readership and response.
  • Environmental Influences - Consider which issues, needs and challenges are influencing your communications. Is it difficult to communicate with staff working in certain environments, such as call centers, warehouse or frontline retail? What specific messaging needs do different departments have? For example, is cyber security a priority for IT teams, or new product launches a key focus for Marketing?
  • Current Communications - Understand how your current internal communications have been performing and what level of employee engagement has been achieved. Identify which current communication channels are the most effective. Are certain channels more effective for specific types of messages?

Step 2. Where Do You Want To Be?

Now that you know your current situation, you can begin to plan what you want it to be. This step is about defining your objectives and ensuring alignment with overall company direction.

  • Future Focus - Start with your vision for the future of internal communications in your organization. How does it look – is it a centralized IC function or decentralized by location or functional area?
  • Business Goals - Internal communication is most effective – and most valuable – when it aligns with overall business goals. Consult your organization’s business plan for detail on KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and core projects at both company and departmental level. This will provide you useful information on where to expend your internal communications efforts.
  • Communication Priorities - Now you know what the primary business objectives are, you can start to form your communication priorities. Consider what response you want staff to have to your communications. This could either be a physical action or an emotional change – that is, a response of act vs feel.
  • Setting Objectives - When you come to set objectives, be specific about what you want to achieve. Is it a hard metric, such as ‘Achieve 100% readership of all important announcements within 60 seconds’? Or is it a softer metric, such as ‘Increase employee engagement by 25%’? Whatever your objective, make sure you have the means to measure it.

Download this Communication Strategy Template

Communication Strategy Template Example

Step 3. How Will You Get There?

This step is where the best tactics and most effective communication channels are combined to achieve your objectives.

  • Communication Tasks - Make a list of all the main communication tasks scheduled for the year. Each task will require a tailored Communications Plan. A simple spreadsheet like the example below can be sufficient.
  • Audience Targeting - Segment your employees into distinct groups based on their working environment or communication preferences. Set these groups up in your communication platforms to enable easy targeting of relevant messages – in the format and channel best suited to them.
  • Channel Selection - The type of content you need to communicate, and the urgency with which staff must consume it, will help define the most appropriate channels. For example, communicating IT outage notifications, promoting campaign events and soliciting feedback to company announcements all have very different purposes – and require very different communication selections. It’s advisable to use multiple channels to maximize the best attributes of each and reduce the risk in relying on a single, overloaded channel.
  • Contingency Plans - Create a contingency plan which outlines alternative courses of action to be taken in the event of roadblocks to the main plan – whether timing delays, lack of resource or inclement weather. Preparing back-up messages in advance can help reduce the stress when obstacles arise, as well as allow you to move more swiftly in response.

Download this Communications Plan Template

communication-plan-table

 

Step 4: How Will You Know If It Worked?

The final step is about tracking results and implementing a cycle of continuous improvement.

  • Measurement - Put systems in place to track how achievement is progressing against your objectives. What’s working well – and, more importantly, what isn’t? Delve into the data to identify improvements that can be made immediately.
  • Evaluate and Evolve - Use channel tracking and analytics tools to identify which channels have been more successful. Build a quarterly evaluation of your communications strategy, but keep in mind the bigger picture - wider company results results which demonstrate the value of your internal communications activities.
  • Two-way Feedback - Be open to requesting, collecting and reporting on employee feedback. Mechanisms such as staff sentiment surveys and intranet forums can be fertile ground for honest and helpful views.

Internal Communications Strategy Example

Download our internal communications strategy template for examples, tips and best practices to create a successful program of internal communications – from concept to completion.

Download the Template

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