The role of internal communication keeps growing. What you’re expected to communicate and advise on has only become more complicated. Luckily, that’s partly because your value and influence have increased in recent years (it’s about time!). But the result of this growing workload and expectations is that it’s easy to become overwhelmed. You have to create high-performing internal communication strategies to maintain that respect and value that you’ve rightly earned. We want to help. That’s why we created a communication strategy checklist that will help you.
But first, a little disclaimer: It’s OKAY if you’re not doing everything on this list right now. It’s okay if you feel a bit overwhelmed by it. Take it one thing at a time. And if you’re already doing most of the things on this checklist, that’s amazing! Go you! In that case, think about what you could get better at and set some SMART goals for yourself.
What Are Internal Communication Strategies?
Internal communication strategies refer to the deliberate and coordinated plans and tactics you use to facilitate effective communication at your organization. These strategies are essential for conveying information, aligning employees with organizational goals, fostering engagement, and ensuring a productive and well-informed workforce.
Effective strategies will include these elements:
- Objectives. Every great strategy starts with clear goals. These objectives may include improving employee engagement, enhancing culture, or aligning employees with the organization’s mission.
- Audience Segmentation. You must identify and group employees based on factors such as their roles, departments, and locations to effectively target and personalize messages.
- Channels. A healthy mix of internal communication channels is how you actually distribute content.
- Content. One of the biggest parts of your strategy is the actual content you choose to create to get your messages across and reach your goals.
- Frequency. Determining how often messages should be shared is vital. Some updates (like emergencies) can’t be planned for, but everything else should be planned in advance and sent on days that make the most sense for your workforce. It’s a careful balance finding a cadence that doesn’t overwhelm your audience, but also provides enough information regularly.
- Feedback and measurement. No strategy is complete without the ability to collect feedback and measure success. From surveys to your analytics dashboards, you should regularly be measuring your results.
4 Components of a Modern Communication Strategy
A lot goes into crafting a successful communication strategy. To help make sense of it, we break it our communication strategy checklist down into four major components: prep, audience research, content and tactics, and measurement.
1. Setting the Foundation: Aligning Departments and Getting Organized
- Set up regular meetings with key stakeholders across the organization. Some key departments you’ll want to be represented at your meeting: HR, IT, and Operations. But you know your organization best and what you’re communicating. Does someone from legal need to be there? From patient experience (if you’re in healthcare)? Supply chain? Facilities?
- Conduct an Internal Communications Audit (at least annually). We love an IC audit. Things can change rapidly at any organization, and this tool helps you ensure your internal communication strategies include all employee groups and channels. If you’ve never done one of these before (or if it’s been a while), get started with our audit guide and template.
- Use an editorial calendar. Staying organized and getting ahead of communications is so important. IC pros have a lot to communicate, and sometimes this can make us feel like we’re always behind and never able to be strategic. An editorial calendar might not fix this entirely, but it will help you be more proactive. We have an editorial calendar template you can use to get started.
2. Understand Your Audience: Conducting Audience Research
- Survey your employee groups. Regular surveys are a great way to keep a finger on the pulse of how your employees feel about communication if they’re getting what they need, and how you can improve. The secret to success here is following up after your survey and taking action based on feedback.
- Understand your audience better with focus groups. Focus groups go one step further than employee surveys. This is a great way to get richer, qualitative feedback and have a meaningful dialogue about it. Some pretty amazing ideas can also be sourced here also!
3. Creating the Right Content Strategy: Balancing Need-to-Know and Nice-to-Know Messages
- Get creative and try something new. From my time as an internal communications professional at Chipotle, I know this isn’t always easy. But this is how you break through, capture attention, and bolster engagement with your content (the kind we really want, which is content opens, time spent on the content, and taking the necessary action afterward). But how?! Think about every part of your communications.
- Can the content title be more creative?
- Is it visual enough?
- Is it the right medium (e.g. can you change your newsletter to a weekly news video instead)?
4. Measuring Your Success
- Check your metrics regularly! Whatever analytics you have access to, use them. Use them religiously. The only way to know if your internal communication strategies are working is to measure them. And measuring regularly and not just as a post-mortem helps you salvage strategies that aren’t panning out the way you anticipated. Expecting perfection out of every strategy is a great way to be disappointed, it’s continually learning, evolving, and adapting that helps you find more success. If measurement and analytics aren’t your strong suit, check out our measurement ebook for internal comms teams.
- Share the win. We’d be remiss if we didn’t stress the importance of sharing when a strategy kicked a**. 20% of communications professionals measure and then do nothing with their data, and that’s a huge waste! You need to share when you have achieved something great with a strategy so you can continue to prove your value as a strategic advisor at your organization.
Download Our Full Internal Communication Strategy Checklist
For a complete checklist that you can use when drafting your communication strategy, download our free guide below 👇
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