Creating an Internal Communications Strategy That Plans for the Unplanned

Creating an Internal Communications Strategy That Plans for the Unplanned

One of my favorite sayings is that you have to be proactive to successfully react in any situation. In internal communications, we often talk about being proactive instead of reactive but the reality is we’re always reacting in some way. The difference between those that seem to keep their cool and uphold their strategic vision and those of us who always feel like we’re putting out fires is that they’ve prepared their reaction in advance. They’ve looked at all possible scenarios and put together an internal communications strategy to successfully react in that moment.

And although this is a new year, we are still faced with the battle against COVID-19, with burnout, and with the necessity to improve DEI at our organizations. In 2020, we were treading water and focusing on tactics to stay afloat. Now the real work begins. Now it’s time to shift to the strategic planning that will propel us forward in 2021. 

If you make one professional resolution for 2021, let it be scenario planning that supports your strategic direction.

1. Plan for the unplanned

Look at your 2021 goals and editorial calendar and think through at least two alternate scenarios that could impact your ability to achieve those goals. What if the vaccine isn’t delivered on time? Or if that rumored merger or acquisition is officially announced? Or if there is a change to the leadership team? Think through the communication plan and strategy for different possible scenarios that could realistically impact your business this year and create internal communications plans for those situations.

2. Complete a communications audit and channel assessment

If there’s one thing we learned from 2020 it’s where there are gaps in our communication strategy. Can you reach your frontline and deskless workforce if there are no in-person meetings? Do you have a means to quickly get information to your now remote workforce? An audit will help you clearly identify where those communication gaps exist and help you prioritize solutions. 

See our Internal Communications Audit Guide for additional tips to start this process (includes a FREE audit template).

3. Collaborate with other business partners and stakeholders

While we like to think we have our finger on the pulse, we are sometimes kept out of the loop on critical projects. Create a regularly cadenced meeting with other business partners who frequently come to you with communication requests or who have (dun, dun, duuuun) gone rogue in the past, to discuss upcoming programs, rollouts, campaigns that will require your communications expertise. Wrapping your arms around the programs early will help you plan ahead and save yourself the scrambling to react.


Although 2020 may have kicked our butts, let’s turn that into a motivator to be proactive in our reaction in 2021. Take this time to create the strategies and templates that will help us be more successful when the unexpected happens. And if after completing your audit you need advice on selecting the right mobile communications solution, give us a shout.

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