Your Free Internal Communication Strategy Template

An internal communications strategy defines business goals in communicating with staff and plans the activities required 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. Follow the steps below, and download the helpful templates available, to create a personalized internal communication plan for your organization.

 

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Before You Start

Doing some background research and investigation before you start is very useful in understanding the environment and the influences which may help or hinder the success of your strategy.

  • Undertake internal research to understand how your current communications have been performing. This may include referring to analytics from the channels you’ve used and speaking to colleagues who have managed the staff comms (this may be any or all of Internal Communications, Human Resources, IT etc.).
  • Create a working group of colleagues who support your plans and whose expertise you value. Ideally this will include employees from a range of departments, but no more than 8-10, depending on the size of your organization.
  • Define outcome-focused objectives that specify what you want to achieve. Include success indicators where possible to enable more meaningful measurement. For example, improve staff survey completion rates by XX%, improve time to reach all staff by XX minutes/hours, or reduce internal email volume by XX%.

1. Situation analysis – where are you now?

Painting a picture of where you are today will allow you to better craft a masterpiece tomorrow. Defining the current state of internal communications within your wider business is essential to define what improvements need to be made.

  • Complete a current situation analysis to review all previously published communications and consider the composition of your organization. Assess whether messages were clear and accurate, targeted appropriately and inclusive of any dispersed staff (eg. Those based in other locations or operating in the field). Work with your HR team to define factors of your organization that will impact communication effectiveness, such as number of staff, locations, departments, role type, demographics, technology etc. Question whether any of these are likely to change significantly in the next couple of years.
  • Review existing channels to understand which are most effective, what impact they’re having and who’s reading them. Dive into any reporting to gauge whether readership rates differ depending on location, job function, or demographics. Consider whether a mix of formats would better suit different content to get message cut-through.
  • Audience segmentation can significantly improve your message open, readership and compliance rates. Use your organization’s employee data or survey staff directly to find out how they prefer to be communicated with – the best times of the day/week, the most effective channels etc.

2. Objectives – where do you want to be?

Focus next on what your ideal destination is and what the main messages and communication channels are that will help you get there.

  • Define communication priorities to support your top-line objectives. These could be actions such as increasing employee participation rates or compliance with new policies, or behavioral changes such as adoption of new processes or improvement in culture. Actions are generally noticeable and measurable, while behavioral changes are often longer-term and subtle in effect.
  • Make channel selection based upon which tools are most suitable for each of your communication priorities. Each channel offers specific advantages and drawbacks, and not every channel will be fit for purpose. Some goals will require multiple channels and higher message repetition. Dig a little deeper to discover the additional features some channels have which ensure higher cut-through and readership rates.

3. Solutions and tactics – how will you get there?

Collaborate with your working group to develop the best tactical plan to achieve your objectives.

  • Build a communication plan for each of your communication tasks. This should include target audience, channel selection, timeframes, target outcomes, and required budget or resources.

Purpose

New Widget X Product Launch
 

Audience

Marketing
Sales
Customer Service
Finance
 
All

Channels

Intranet
Display board
Email
Desktop Alert
Newsletter
Survey Channel

Tactic or Asset

Ticker with link to Intranet page
Screensaver
Video
Alert
Editorial
Post Launch survey

Duration / Frequency

2 weeks
1 week after

Desired Outcome

95% pass rate of post-launch survey
 

Cost / Resource

100 hours @ $80 p/h
 
  • Consider staff working environments which will influence how best to communicate with them. Frontline staff will often be busy dealing with customers and so have limited time to read messages. Remote or field-based staff may exclusively use mobile devices. Certain role or organization types are not desk-based, and hence channels like digital signage may be the only way to reach them.
  • Obtain senior stakeholder approval when required to implement your strategy. If this is the case, clearly demonstrate the impact on staff productivity, customer satisfaction and business performance from maintaining the status quo.

In one creative example, an Internal Communications team created a 16-foot poster that contained all the messages that were sent to the organization’s call center during a two-week period. It was calculated that these employees would have to read over 93,000 words a month — the equivalent of the entire contents of the Harper Lee book "To Kill a Mockingbird"! The inability of already-busy staff to read and assimilate all this during their daily work was very clear!

Evaluate and evolve – what worked, what didn’t?

Using tracking and analytical tools, you can assess which communication channels employees engage with the most and which ones they avoid.

  • Build a regular evaluation program to collect message open, engagement and click-through rates. Supplement this with related data on staff attendance at training sessions, tickets raised for IT Helpdesk issues, improvements in company culture, volumes of survey responses or participation in company events. Use the benchmark data collected earlier to compare previous performance with what your strategy has achieved.
  • Capture employee feedback as much as possible, whether through formal surveys or open dialogue in staff meetings or online forums. Most internal communicators find employee suggestions a goldmine of great ideas, so don’t be afraid to ask for it.
  • Draw conclusions and summarize recommendations to help you evolve your plans for continual improvement. Revise your strategy and repeat the process.

Internal Communications Strategy Example

See internal communications strategy in action with insights into a leading telecommunications company that achieved over 93% readership – compared with just 22% via email.

Information overload and missed communications were costing the business more than $10M every year in lost productivity. They needed a robust internal communications strategy to meet the fast-changing demands of their workplace.

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