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  • Writer's pictureAnton Tsuji

8 elements of a killer internal communication strategy: no fluff, all impact

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Many internal communication strategies are missing some essential elements. Do you ever have that niggling feeling of impostor syndrome about yours? In this post we’ve compiled the most critical elements and discover how to shape them.


A loud speaker that annoys a crowd of people.



As a communication manager, HR professional or Chief of Staff, did you ever glance at your company's marketing department and felt a pang of envy? 🫠


Their world seems so powerful, cut and straight, while internal comms… well, it's a bit more like navigating through fog.


But here's the deal: the world's not getting any simpler. And for businesses, internal communication is more crucial than ever. Without a solid communication strategy, things can quickly go south.


But no worries, we’ve got you covered.


Let's break down and spice up your internal communication strategy. Crafting a better internal communication strategy isn't rocket science. Let's dive into the essential elements and explore how you can master them.


👉 Here's a quick overview – so you can easily jump to the respective sections.



 


1. Communication objectives and SMART goals

Every company has its mission, vision, and goals. But how does internal communication amplify these objectives? It's not just about setting benchmarks; it's about creating a narrative that drives your team forward. 🤌


To align your communication objectives with the overarching company goals, you can, for example, adopt the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) framework.


This method isn't just about setting goals; it's about propelling your communication efforts with purpose and clarity.


How to create your communication objectives and SMART goals:


  1. Distil objectives: Begin with the global goals cascaded down from leadership and transform them into actionable objectives.

  2. Brainstorm key results: Gather your team and brainstorm how each objective can be achieved.



 


2. Internal target group segmentation and stakeholder personas


Knowing your internal audience is as critical as understanding your external market. With diverse individuals in your organization, each with unique communication needs, creating detailed personas for different groups is essential.


This process goes beyond simple demographics; it involves understanding their specific roles, preferences, and challenges within the organization. 👥


How to segment your internal target group and create personas:


  1. Segmentation: Identify groups within your organization based on shared characteristics such as department, location, or other relevant factors. Aim for 2 to 5 distinct groups for manageable and effective communication.

  2. Persona development: Create detailed personas for each segment, including demographics, job roles, and personal preferences. Personas like “Tech Enthusiast Tom” or “Factory Floor Worker Lisa” aren't just fictional characters; they're tools to visualize your audience and tailor content effectively. Engage in direct conversations with representatives from each group to discover their unique communication pain points. This is the cornerstone of a strategy that resonates deeply and effectively with your internal audience.



 


3. Communication channel mix


The communication channel mix is the lifeline of your internal communication strategy.


After defining your audience personas, the next step is to select the most effective channels to deliver your messages. This involves a blend of digital and traditional platforms, tailored to meet your audience where they are most active and receptive.


How to create your communication channel mix:


  1. Assess your toolbox: Review the communication channels available within your organization. The key is to understand the strengths and limitations of each channel and how they align with your audience's preferences and habits.

  2. Channel-audience alignment: Map each persona to the channels that best suit their communication style and preferences. For instance, use digital newsletters or modern intranet platforms (like Staffbase, Flip or Haiilo) for comprehensive updates for those who prefer in-depth information, while leveraging instant messaging tools for personas who favour quick, on-the-go updates.



 


4. Communication tactics


Communication tactics in internal communication are about crafting content that truly connects company goals with individual contributions. ✍️


It's not just about delivering information; it's about ensuring that your content is relevant, engaging, and tailored to the unique needs and preferences of your audience.


How to set your communication tactics:


  1. Apply the journalism approach: Use the classic questions — Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How — to guide your content creation. Identify your target audience, the message you need to convey, the right time for delivery, the best platform for dissemination, the significance of your content, and how it aligns with the broader company narrative.

  2. Tailor tactics to audience segments: Recognize that different audience segments may require different communication methods. The tactics you choose should resonate with your specific audience segments. This means customizing your approach according to the preferences and behaviours of each group.


 


5. Communication guidelines and messaging framework


The creation of effective communication guidelines and a messaging framework is crucial in ensuring that your messages are not only reaching the right audiences but are also clearly understood and consistent across all channels. 📢


This step is about defining how your organization communicates internally, aligning it with your external brand voice, and tailoring it to different employee groups.


How to write communication guidelines and messaging framework:


  1. Set clear communication guidelines: Define key components like voice, tone, and visual language. These guidelines should reflect the overall brand identity and be adaptable to the specific needs and preferences of different employee groups.

  2. Develop a unified messaging framework: Start by establishing a comprehensive messaging framework that is adaptable to each persona. This framework should guide the tone, frequency, and style of your messages, ensuring they are consistent with the guidelines yet personalized to different audience segments.

  3. Align internal and external communications: Consistency across internal and external messaging strengthens the brand identity and builds trust and credibility among employees.



 


6. Editorial content plan


Once the foundational elements of your internal communication strategy are in place, it's time to unleash your creativity with an editorial content plan. This plan is at the core of your strategy, designed to consistently engage and inform your employees. 🌈


How to build an editorial content plan:


  1. Align with audience segmentation: Reflect on the insights gathered from your audience segmentation. Tailor your content topics and formats to the specific interests and needs of each persona identified in earlier sections.

  2. Utilize chosen communication channels: Leverage the communication channels identified as most effective for each persona. For example, use podcasts for segments that prefer in-depth discussions and infographics for those who appreciate visual, quick-to-digest information.

  3. Follow the messaging framework: Ensure your content aligns with the established messaging framework. This includes maintaining a consistent tone, style, and frequency that resonates with your internal brand voice and audience preferences.

  4. Schedule strategically: Develop a content calendar that strategically schedules the release of varied formats. This should be based on the optimal timing and frequency for each audience segment, as determined in your communication tactics.



 


7. Feedback mechanisms


Effective feedback mechanisms are the backbone of a dynamic and responsive internal communication strategy. They transform one-way messaging into a two-way conversation, essential for understanding employee sentiments and fostering a culture of open dialogue. 💬


How to use feedback mechanisms:


  1. Create relevant feedback channels: Tailor your feedback mechanisms to match the communication habits of your audience segments. If your team is active on social media, consider internal social features. For those accustomed to online reviews, set up platforms where they can rate and review internal communications or initiatives.

  2. Integrate feedback into strategy: Ensure that the feedback collected is not just gathered, but actively used to inform and adapt your communication strategy. Show your employees how their input leads to tangible changes or improvements.



 


8. Analytics and measurement


In the realm of internal communication, analytics and measurement are vital for assessing the effectiveness of your strategy and demonstrating its impact.


By leveraging data, you can make informed decisions and continuously refine your approach, ensuring your communication efforts align with and support your organization's goals. 🎯


How to build an actual useful set of analytics:


  1. Align KPIs with goals: Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that reflect your company's objectives.

  2. Keep It simple: Ensure KPIs are straightforward and understandable.

  3. Focus on actionable data: Use metrics that provide insights for decision-making.

  4. Regular review: Consistently track and evaluate your KPIs to identify trends and adjust strategies.



 


Conclusion


The framework provided above offers a solid foundation to navigate your daily communication endeavours. It preemptively addresses many long-term considerations, ensuring you're not left scrambling for answers every time a new internal initiative emerges.


However, pragmatism is paramount when crafting these guidelines. ⚠️


Aim for brevity without compromising on clarity. Provide your team with just enough guidance to independently execute the strategy without the need for incessant oversight.


A natural progression from here would be to create detailed blueprints derived from this overarching strategy. These blueprints could delve into specific areas like leadership communication or change management.


But, as they say, that's a discussion for another day. 🚀



 

Ready to craft your killer strategy and level up your internal communication?


With our comprehensive ebook “The essential Guide to Change Enablement Marketing (CEM)”, this is a piece of cake.


Dive into the nuances of objectives, audience segmentation, content and channel strategies, feedback mechanisms, and effective measurement. Perfect for medium-sized and large businesses looking to optimize internal processes and foster a more connected workplace environment.




Some helpful FAQs


What is an internal communication strategy and why do companies need it? 🧐


An internal communication strategy is a systematic plan that outlines how a company communicates with its employees. It includes key elements such as communication objectives, audience segmentation, channel mix, tactics, guidelines, and more. Companies need it to ensure effective, consistent, and targeted communication, fostering employee engagement, alignment with company goals, and a positive workplace culture.

How does creating an internal communication strategy contribute to organizational success? 🎯

What steps are involved in creating an internal communication strategy? ✍️


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