Internal Comms Strategy Best Practices
Are you seen as an internal communication strategist? Or are you seen as a tactician, a do-er of communication, someone asked to just “comms this up”? As an experienced IC professional, I know about this struggle first-hand. Proving your value—and the power of good communication—can be an uphill battle. But the trick is to start with an internal comms strategy that gets results, so you can show just how valuable you are to your company.
In this blog, I’ll share a few tips that will help you prove yourself as a strategist and not just a tactician. We’ll cover conducting an internal comms audit, putting together a comms strategy, and how to show the positive impact you have on culture, engagement, and the bottom line.
Start with an Internal Comms Audit
Any good comms strategy starts with an audit. Why? Because an internal comms audit lays the foundation for what’s currently being communicated and provides the framework to determine what needs to change or be communicated in the future.
Starting from a place of understanding exactly who you’re reaching, how messages are being sent, and what channels you’re using will set you up for success. Why? Because to change something—like adopting a new communication channel—you need proof. It’s a lot more compelling to tell senior leadership that you need an app because 80 percent of your workforce doesn’t have an email address or Intranet access, and therefore are regularly missing x, y, and z critical updates, than to say it’s your “gut instinct.”
So, an audit helps you craft a responsive strategy, but it also helps you measure how successful your current strategy is.
Internal Comms Audit Questions
We recommend using our audit guide and template for a comprehensive, step-by-step walkthrough of how to conduct an audit, but there are a few foundational questions to consider when you get started.
- Who is your audience? Have you built personas for each core employee group? This is a great marketing best practice that comms pros can use to improve their targeting and personalization of messages.
- What does your audience want? And what do they need? The best way to learn this is to ask through employee surveys or focus groups. But this is helpful research for building employee personas and really understanding how to reach your target audience. Determine:
- How they like to consume information (e.g., video, podcast, text, etc.).
- What channel(s) do they prefer (e.g., apps, email, etc.).
- How often would they like to receive information.
- What topics interest them outside of operational, need-to-know content.
- How is my audience currently receiving information? Get your baseline on channels and content mediums.
- How do I want my audience to be receiving information? Really think of the art of the possible here. Are all your executive comms going through email and print? Do you want to make those short video messages instead? Document these wishlist items, noting why you want the change.
- What is happening with content governance: are comms unified through you or are departments still going rogue? It’s important to pull your stakeholders together regularly to understand what messages are being sent and if anything is being shared without your expertise.
There are many more internal comms audit questions, but these are the most foundational and important. To learn more, download our internal comms audit guide.
Creating an Internal Comms Strategy
With your audit results in hand, you’re ready to start putting together your internal comms strategy, right?
Not so fast!
Do you have a comprehensive list of your comms goals? The business’ objectives? What about what your stakeholders need to achieve? Make sure you understand and record all these goals before you pen a strategy. Watch our Internal Comms TV series on measurement to learn how to set SMART goals and what to do with them:
Once you have your goals, you can start planning your strategy. As a seasoned IC pro, you’re already crafting campaigns and messages all the time. But figuring out how to measure success, adapt, and continue to drive results, can be a bit tricky.
To learn from what you’re currently doing, an Internal Comms Stop, Start, Continue Analysis can be invaluable. This audit makes it easy to look at your current objectives and campaigns and create actionable plans for what you want to keep the same, try (and test!), and stop doing altogether. It’s a great way to tweak your existing internal comms strategy and meaningfully test new approaches.
But if you’re really struggling to move from individual messages to comms campaigns, our Guide to Creating Successful Internal Comms Campaigns has great step-by-step instructions and pro tips.
Mobile Comms Strategy Best Practices
If you’re realizing that your current comms strategy is stuck in the stone age—reliance on email, signage, and intranets—you may want to consider a mobile internal comms strategy.
There are a few best practices when building a mobile comms strategy to keep in mind.
- The content has to suit the medium. App and mobile content is made for quick, multimedia, and more informal content. While that can feel very different from how you craft content for traditional channels like email, it’s actually a huge opportunity. Less formal (and jargon-heavy!) content is more relatable to your employees. And video and audio content creates more trust and transparency with your audience than printed messages do. So take advantage of this different channel!
- User Generated Content is King. Just like social media, mobile apps provide the opportunity to elevate more voices within your employee community. People want to hear from people just like them, so finding these employee stories and giving them a platform is a huge culture win.
- New Metrics. A new channel means new metrics to help you assess the effectiveness of your strategy. But don’t get lost in vanity metrics. Focus on what helps you prove your ROI. On mobile this is things like time spent on the platform, search history, and whether or not you’re improving the follow-through—the activation—of your teams on the calls to action on your content.
Using Data to Demonstrate Your Impact
When all is said and done, you need to measure your impact and share those results with leadership to truly be seen as a strategic comms advisor at your company. But luckily, when you build your comms strategy with objectives in mind, you set yourself up to be able to more easily measure your ROI.
But we understand that measurement and analytics can sometimes be an overwhelming subject for IC pros. That’s why we worked with our friends at Brilliant Ink to create this guide to internal comms measurement.
If you have questions about how you can take your strategy mobile, we’re here to help.