Prepare an internal communication strategy in 4 steps

When you’re responsible for the internal communications in your company or would like to improve it, consider preparing the IC strategy. It’ll help you order your internal communications plans, ideas and tools. What’s more important, it’ll be your compass for all the actions that should be taken to achieve your communications goals. I can’t work without it. For me, it’s like a map leading me to a place I would like to go.

The internal comms strategy may be divided into 4 parts – this is the way I was taught, but you may find other ideas for developing this document. It’s not about names or numbers of the pillars. When you check what’s inside these steps, you’ll discover the same or very similar actions to be taken to create your internal comms map.

So the 4 pillars are:
•    an IC audit to assess the current communication situation you have in your company
•    setting IC goals
•    preparing a description of ways to achieve your goals
•    and the evaluation of your actions
Let’s check what’s essential to do in these 4 steps.   

1. Assess the internal communications in your company
Without checking up your health, undergoing treatment makes no sense. That’s why spending time on assessing the internal communications in your company before starting to plan anything is essential. Find out how the situation looks like to use the gathered data to create the effective IC strategy.

At this stage of creating the strategy you may organise an internal communications audit (qualitative and quantitative research) to get opinions from your employees and analyse the communications tools used in the company. It’s also worth checking the business strategy because your IC strategy should be an integrated part of the whole business. If there were any employee engagement research or corporate culture assessments in the past, you may also find many useful tips and ideas describing employees’ communications behaviours in your company in the results of these surveys. Ask for the final reports and analyse them.   

The PR, HR or EB strategies may be analysed as well if the teams responsible for these fields have them. You shouldn’t forget about checking trends and looking for benchmarks to check how other companies cope with their internal comms challenges. A good way to find out more about your IC is to prepare a SWOT analysis.
Afterwards, take time to focus on defining your target groups among the employees. Describe them to get to know them better. Preparing personas or an audience matrix is very helpful and useful at this stage.

Would you like to read more about internal comms audits? Check this blog post.

2. Choose the IC goals
The next important elements of planning your internal communication strategy are:
•    timing in which you would like to implement all the actions
•    a field where you’ll do it
•    and a team responsible for the implementation all these actions

It’s also a moment for the key issue – you need to set strategic goals to achieve while implementing your strategy. You should assign the directions of your actions to know when you’ll achieve your communications goals.
It’s helpful to check the IC audit results to look for the main problems in the company communications. After analysing them, define your internal comms goals connected with them.

3. Plan proper actions
In the next step of building your IC strategy you should choose the best tools and actions (e.g. internal campaigns to inform, educate or promote particular topics, behaviours or ideas) to help you reach your goals. And then, check if you already have these essential internal comms tools or maybe you should put them on your list of new tools needed to be implemented in your company. It may occur that the IC tools you already have need some changes and improvements.

It’s also worth answering a question if the company hires enough IC professionals to cope with everyday communications work and the upcoming implementation of this new strategy. Or maybe you should add to your strategy a point like ‘hiring a new IC professional’ or focus on the IC team development and send them to some valuable trainings. Remember not only about actions to be taken, but plan also who will be responsible for all these actions listed in your strategy.   

All the IC strategies I build with my clients during the workshops always have an operational plan added, where all these steps and actions to be taken are described to make it easier for my clients while the implementation process. It’s really worth preparing such a plan as a part of your strategy.  

At the end of this stage, describe the expected results of your actions, plan the budget (remember to have some extra money for the unexpected actions) and prepare the time schedule for all planned steps.

4. Don’t forget about an evaluation
For many IC professionals, evaluating the effects of their work is the most difficult part of building the communications strategy. All your IC actions listed in the strategy should be assessed at the end. Don’t miss this part. Only then, you’ll find out if the expected results are achieved and the implementation of your strategy is successful.  

Remember not to check only statistics, e.g. numbers of users of your intranet or numbers of employees who took part in a particular action. The key point in IC is to change people’s behaviours, and to assess such changes simple statistics aren’t enough. Plan how to measure if you change your employees’ attitude towards the challenges described in your strategy.

Below I listed the key points on your way to create the internal comms strategy:
•    check the IC tools used in your company and assess them
•    prepare a SWOT analysis (it may be a part of an audit)
•    organise an IC audit (qualitative and quantitative research)
•    describe your target groups (prepare personas or an audience matrix)
•    check other strategies (business, PR, EB, HR)
•    look for IC trends, do benchmark, if possible
•    set IC goals (connect them with the IC audit results and the business strategy)
•    plan how to achieve all internal comms goals
•    remember about a budget and a time schedule
•    focus on preparing an evaluation for all your actions listed in the strategy

And there it is! Now you’ll probably need to discuss the IC strategy with very important people in your company to get an approval to start the implementation process. Good luck!


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