25 Internal Communication Tools Every Communicator Needs
Last updated on May 24, 2022 at 04:14 pm
A lot of responsibility falls on the shoulders of internal communications professionals. With internal comms teams often being small, we each somehow have to be strategists, writers, editors, journalists, internal PR, content creators, and data scientists. To succeed and thrive in our role, we need a robust set of tools and resources. That’s why we’ve compiled the list of our top 25 internal communication tools.
These include everything from organization and content creation to measurement and professional development. We have not included potential communication channel vendors in this list, although the right CommsTech is vital. But if you are interested in learning about whether or not an employee app would be right for you, let’s get in touch.
Organization & Productivity Tools for Internal Communicators
There is no shortage of organization and productivity tools out there. But what one’s do you really need? Which ones actually save time and aren’t just clutter in your bookmarks tab?
Editorial calendars, or content calendars, are one of the most important internal communication tools for any content creator. They help you stay organized, meet deadlines, and hold stakeholders and project owners accountable. When done right, they help track goals and KPIs and can help you finally get ahead on the high volume of what you have to communicate as well as what you want to.
There are many free and paid editorial calendar tools out there to choose from. And there is no one-size-fits-all solution! Here’s a quick rundown of a few options.
Pros: Excel, Sheets, or Numbers are the most flexible content calendar option because they are the most open form. They are the most cost-effective investment and are great if you’re just starting out. Since many companies already have other collaboration or productivity software, it doesn’t always make sense to invest in something brand new just to have an editorial calendar.
Cons: The collaboration functionality is pretty limited and you have to build it from scratch unless you download our template (which you should!).
Pros: Smartsheet is more than just a calendar, it’s also a collaboration and productivity tool.
Cons: It costs money [sad face emoji], but you can try it for free.
Pros: This is going to be more advanced than a simple excel document, with built-in collaboration functionality. It’s also pretty and made for this purpose, compared to excel which has to be molded to your will!
Cons: They do have a free version of their template, but you still have to sign up.
Internal Communications Audit Template
Another invaluable tool in any internal communicator’s arsenal is an audit. When auditing your strategy as an internal communicator, you’re really looking at a few things:
- What are my channels?
- Who are my audiences? What channels do they have access to?
- Am I getting the results I want?
- What am I sending today? What do I want to be able to send in the future?
Why Audit? Audits help you pinpoint any holes in your strategy and ensure that you aren’t wasting time on channels or tactics that aren’t getting the results you need. For instance, an audit might show you that you aren’t reaching a segment of your workforce on the right channels. Or it might show you that traffic to a certain channel is incredibly low despite you spending the majority of your time working on that channel’s content strategy.
How often should you audit? We recommend doing this annually. But if you have any major organizational changes, such as a merger, definitely consider an audit then as well. To get started, we recommend downloading our Guide to Conducting an Internal Comms Audit, which includes an audit template.
We LOVE Trello at theEMPLOYEEapp. Many of our teams work cross-functionally, but we also work with teams and contractors outside of our company, and Trello is our go-to project and task management tool. Internal communications teams also have to work with teams across the organization and hold various stakeholders accountable for deadlines and deliverables. Trello can be a great tool.
What is Trello? Trello is a task management tool that allows you to create “Boards” where you track lists/action items. You can monitor status, assign relevant stakeholders, and create review/approval flows. For an internal comms pro, this can be a great Editorial Calendar option, or it can be a great way to keep stakeholders and your team on top of deadlines. Or use it as an individual and crush your to-do list!
What does it cost? There is a limited free version! If you can’t get your whole company on board, you can still use this individually as a very robust to-do list or with your internal comms team. But there are options to get more users on Trello and to expand the functionality considerably.
Monday.com is similar to Trello but has a huge focus on productivity. This tool is great for individuals managing a team and project managers.
What is Monday.com? This is a tool that helps you plan, organize, and track your projects in one place. Again, internal comms pros, you could use this as an editorial calendar with a built-in KPI dashboard. Or you could use this to better manage your growing team and track towards your internal communications goals.
What does it cost? Like Trello, you can get Monday.com for free up to 2 seats, and the pricing goes up from there based on how many people you want to use the tool and what functionality you need. To get the reporting dashboards that make Monday.com so great, you will need to purchase at least the Basic plan.
ClickUp is another task management tool to throw into the mix! This option includes a lot of the same functionality as both Trello and Monday but also includes some great automation functionality to save you time and a robust suite of integrations.
What is ClickUp? ClickUp lets you plan, track, and manage your projects in a goal-oriented way. The company boasts major time savings by switching to them.
What does it cost? There is a free version for individual use, which goes up to just $5/month for small teams and $12/month for mid-sized teams.
How many hours a year do you think you waste trying to book meetings? For an IC professional, who meets regularly with many people and employees across your organization, that time adds up FAST.
What is Calendly? Basically, your new best friend. Calendly lets you streamline the process of booking meetings. You input your meeting availability and send your Calendly link to your meeting invitee(s). They can then select the meeting slot that works for them, eliminating all the back-and-forth.
What does it cost? Their basic model is completely free. But if you want to use Calendly as a team or with more security, features, control, or support, there are paid plans for that.
Content Creation Internal Communication Tools
Having a great content strategy is one thing, bringing it to life is another.
Many of us started in internal communications when our comms channels didn’t support multimedia content. And now we have to make videos, gifs, podcasts, and stunning visuals. While there’s a great argument in there for getting more resources for internal comms so we don’t have to wear all the hats…we do want to equip you with our five favorite content creation tools for internal communication.
These days, mobile is the name of the game. Most of us don’t have fancy camera equipment, but nearly everyone owns a smartphone, which come with incredible cameras. And if you’re recording your videos on the go, why not edit them on mobile also? Meet Kinemaster, our favorite video editing app.
What is Kinemaster? Kinemaster is a mobile application for editing videos in a variety of aspect ratios to fit your needs. Just like other editing software, Kinemaster lets you trim footage, put slides of images together, record voiceover, add music, etc.
What does it cost? Kinemaster is free to use, but it comes with some limitations that way. For $3.99 per month or $22.99 per year, you unlock unlimited assets (effects, music, stock images, etc.), remove as, and remove the Kinemaster watermark. This is the way to go if you create videos regularly.
iMovie or Premiere
Creating videos for internal communication is a must these days. Whether you’re supplementing written communications, creating training videos, or even just editing the dead air time off the Town Hall recording, all IC pros could benefit from having some basic editing skills.
For beginners, we recommend iMovie. But if you aren’t a Mac user, no worries, there are many comparable products for PC users like Movavi. iMovie includes all the functionality you really need to get by. It lets you edit footage with videos and still images. You can add audio and even record voiceover within the native platform. It won’t have some of the high-production-value features that you might be used to seeing in videos, but it gets the job done.
If you’re more advanced, we recommend Adobe Premiere Pro. In fact, there are a lot of products within the adobe suite that can help you create incredibly professional-looking videos. Of course, more features and functionality means more money. If you plan to invest in one Adobe product, it’s worth going all in and getting the full Adobe Creative Suite, complete with InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, and so on.
Podcasting is another medium that is gaining momentum in the internal communications space. And our favorite new tool for it is Riverside.fm.
What is it? Riverside.fm is an online recording studio that allows you to record professional-quality videos and podcasts. It also allows you to book meetings through their platform, streamlining the interview-gathering process. It’s totally worth it because the video and audio quality is immensely better than what you get on video conferencing platforms like Zoom.
What does it cost? They have a few different packages to meet your needs. Their Basic plan starts at just $7.50 per month, going up to a Pro plan at $24 per month.
Adobe Creative Cloud Express
Adobe Creative Cloud Express (which is the rebranded name for Adobe Spark) is a more budget-friendly version of the Adobe Creative Suite. This is a great option for elevating your graphics, thumbnails, and PDFs to the next level.
What is it? This is design software made for the non-designer. It comes with tons of templates that help make everything you create look amazing.
What does it cost? It’s FREE! There is a premium version you can upgrade to, but unless your role is very design-heavy, you can totally get by without.
Another incredible FREE tool for creating PDFs, thumbnails, infographics/graphics, gifs, and more…look no further than Canva. This tool is incredibly user-friendly and makes everyone a pro designer.
What is it? Canva is a mobile and web-enabled design tool. It comes with templates for every post and project you can think of. You can also create your own templates and design things from scratch. Canva also comes with its own stock photo library, photo background remover tool, and more, limiting the number of tools you need to bring your projects to life.
What does it cost? It’s another incredible FREE tool. But there is a paid version ($120 for the year) that lets you upload brand fonts, colors, and save logos. This is definitely a must for external teams like marketing, but it isn’t completely necessary for internal depending on how strict your internal brand guidelines are.
As internal comms professionals, we write A LOT. And we have a lot of eyes reading our copy. I think we’ve all been in a situation where we miss a typo when editing and it goes live. Avoid more of these mistakes and speed up the editing process with a tool like Grammarly.
What is it? Grammarly is an AI-powered editing assistant that comes as an application for your computer or as a plugin for your browser. As you write in desktop applications (like Word) and sites across the web (like Email or Google Docs), Grammarly will provide grammar and writing suggestions to ensure you don’t miss grammar mistakes and to make your writing as clear as possible.
What does it cost? There is a free version that checks for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. But there are more advanced versions that include analytics dashboards and checks on things like word choice, formality, tone adjustments, and even plagiarism detection.
Strategy and Measurement Internal Communications Tools
More than ever before, internal comms pros are being asked to bring the data. While many of us feel that we don’t have adequate measurement tools or knowledge, this goes hand-in-hand with being seen as a strategic advisor more than just a tactician.
To help you become better at internal comms benchmarking, measuring your ROI, and creating strategies that ladder to business objectives, we are sharing some of our favorite research publications, measurement tools, and internal communication best practices for creating a kickass strategy.
State of the Sector
The State of the Sector from Gallagher is one of our favorite annual reports. This is a must-read for any communications professional. The report includes:
- Insights from communications teams from around the world.
- Key trends, including top challenges and priorities for teams.
- Channel analysis and usage trends.
- Key benchmarks to use in your own internal communications strategy.
Why you need it: We look forward to this report every year because it really is the best comprehensive report on the state of the internal comms industry. The data points within create great benchmarks and stories to take back to leadership to make the business case for new strategies or tools. It’s also a great way to learn where your organization is excelling and where you might need to catch up and can be a great precursor to an annual, internal comms audit.
Edelman Trust Barometer
Other than the State of the Sector, Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer is another report we can’t wait to get our hands on. The report includes:
- Analysis of the global state of trust in various institutions, including businesses.
- Trends on the trust in “my employer” and, specifically, the role of the CEO and executive leadership.
Why you need it: This report is a must-have because executive communications have never been more important and internal comms teams have been increasingly more responsible for communicating about key social issues. Edelman’s Trust Barometer provides great data that you can take back to your C-Suite to make the case for increasing transparency and communication from the executive team and, especially, the CEO.
- Frontline and remote worker needs, trends, and the challenges in reaching them
- What internal comms teams need to do to reach this population
- The importance of the line manager and the challenges we need to overcome to help them excel in their roles
Why you need it: This is a super helpful resource for anyone who communicates to frontline or remote teams. The needs of these employee groups are very different from those who work in an office and behind a computer all day, and this report starts to make sense of those differences and how it applies to the work we do as communicators.
Internal Comms Campaign Planning Guide
As our channels and audiences evolve, so too must our strategies and tactics. And as analytics have improved for internal comms, we have a better sense than ever before about what tactics work and which don’t. Gone are the days of single-channel messaging and text-based comms dominating the space. In today’s world, we need multi-channel, multi-medium campaigns to truly activate our teams towards appropriate actions and results.
But creating great campaigns isn’t always easy. That’s why our internal comms experts and marketing team put their heads together to create an Internal Comms Campaign Planning Guide that breaks down:
- What makes for a great campaign
- How to set objectives and align goals with key stakeholders
- How to set the right cadence, create great content, and find comms champions
- Change management best practices that you need to consider in your campaign planning
- How to adapt your messages for our multi-channel reality
- How to measure success
Internal Comms Strategy Checklist
IC professionals are busy. Sometimes, you just need to make sure you are covering your bases and set up for success. Especially now that we are responsible for communicating more than ever before—and not just operational tactics!—we need to make sure we are creating strategies that get results.
We created this internal communications strategy checklist to help you stay on top of everything. This checklist includes:
- Action items that set the foundation for a great strategy
- Steps for getting to know your audience to improve targeting and personalization
- Content creation steps
- Steps for measuring impact
Employee Surveys Checklist
Surveys are an instrumental tool for communicators (and, honestly, anything that helps you get direct feedback and insights from your audience). But conducting surveys, following up with the results, and creating an action plan is a lot of work.
We’ve created a checklist that will help you:
- Write survey questions that align with your goals
- Understand how you should pose your questions (e.g. multiple-choice, Likert, etc.)
- Edit your surveys so they are easy to complete
- Prepare for the possible results of the survey so you aren’t scrambling to respond after the survey closes
- Share your survey results and make an action plan
- Create surveys specifically to be shared via mobile channels
Guide to Measurement and Analytics for Internal Comms Pros
Measurement is important, but not always easy. And that’s partly because we don’t always have the right tools for collecting data and making sense of it (if that’s the case, let’s get in touch). But it’s also because a lot goes into measuring and reporting results.
We created a definitive resource, in partnership with Brilliant Ink, for internal communicators to measure and analyze their internal communications efforts. Our guide includes how to:
- Define objectives and set SMART goals
- Create actionable surveys and evaluate survey questions
- Analyze mobile app data
- Conduct a content analysis
- Present the data to leadership and make your case for resources
- Create data visualizations that tell a story
Stop, Start, Continue Analysis
One of our favorite analytical tools doesn’t cost money or require fancy analytics dashboards. It’s called a Stop, Start, Continue Analysis. And it’s pretty simple. All you need to do is to go through your strategy, tactics, and goals and determine what actions/projects/tactics you are going to stop doing, what you want to start doing, and what’s working that you will continue doing.
We break down how this analysis works in-depth in our Guide to Conducting a Stop, Start, Continue Analysis, and we include a template you can use for your own analysis.
So often, we see lists of tools for internal communicators, and they rarely include ways to upskill and network. At the end of the day, joining a professional network or attending conferences/workshops is an invaluable tool in your IC toolbox. Of course, there are more professional development societies, workshops, and events, but this is the list that we have personally been a part of and can vouch for the value of.
Why join? The benefits of joining PRSA are many. By becoming a member you get access to:
- Discounted rates for some of the best conferences for internal communications.
- Members-only webinars and thought leadership.
- A supportive network of your fellow communicators.
- The ability to attend local chapter events and educational sessions.
- Exclusive discounts at Office Depot, Ace Hardware, ADP, Hotels, and more.
What does it cost? There are various membership types that each come at a different cost.
- Former PRSSA members who graduated within the past two years: $60/year.
- Full-time graduate students pursuing an advanced degree: $60/year.
- Less than one year of experience: $115/year.
- 1 – 2 years of experience: $155/year.
- 2 – 3 years of experience: $200/year.
- More than 3 years of experience: $260/year plus a $65 initiation fee.
IABC is the International Association for Business Communicators. Like PRSA, this organization is a great way to network and prioritize your professional development.
Why join? The benefits of joining IABC include:
- Access to local chapters and global events.
- A subscription to their thought leadership publication Catalyst.
- Leadership opportunities, including their mentorship program.
- Career development resources.
- Discounted rates for their Gold Quill Awards, World Conference, and global certification initiative.
What does it cost? There are various membership types that each come at a different cost.
- IABC+ Membership: $400 + Chapter/Region Dues
- Global Membership: $265 + Chapter/Region Dues
- Group Membership: $226 + Chapter/Region Dues
ICology is a community built by internal communicators for internal communicators. IColoy’s approach is very human-centric and really wants to be a community that supports its members and encourages everyone to share experiences and ask questions.
Why join? Membership gives you access to:
- Their mentorship program.
- ICology-sponsored events (they also encourage members to share other events they are aware of and participating in to share with the rest of the community)
- Career-planning resources.
- Thought leadership, including ICology Lab courses and the ICology Podcast
What does it cost? An ICology membership is $149 per year.
ALI Conferences is a conference organizer who happens to put on some of the best employee communications conferences in the business.
Why Join? We recommend keeping them on your radar so you can tune in to their great virtual and in-person events, but also for speaking opportunities. Speaking at events is great exposure and a great way to take a step forward professionally.
What does it cost? The cost to attend events varies, but you can often find great discount codes when registering.
The Conference Board
Why Join? The Conference Board is another great conference organizer who hosts some great internal comms events. But it doesn’t stop there, they also share reports and podcasts and have great, free thought leadership.
What does it cost? The cost to attend events varies.
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