10 tips for your internal comms strategy

StrategyIf you’re currently working on your internal communications strategy, you’re not alone. I’m working with two charities at the moment to help them develop theirs and strategies were the topic for yesterday’s CharityComms special interest group for internal communicatiors.

It’s great to know that so many organisations are recognising the strategic importance of effective internal comms – or at least beginning to recognise it. I have been talking about this for years, to just about anyone who will listen. A strategic approach makes the outcomes of your comms activity so much more powerful than simply ‘sending stuff out’.

The CharityComms group saw fantastic presentations from Liz Clyro, head of internal comms at Mencap, and Helen Schick, head of internal comms at Alzheimers Society, about their internal comms strategies, followed by table discussions on the topic. With over 40 of us in the room, from a range of charities, there was a lot to share and learn from.

10 tips from the session

1 . Using the language that leaders use helps to position your internal communication strategy as business critical – they will recognise it as something that makes sense in their world.

2. Finding a way to balance the need to deliver the day job as well as taking the time to look at the strategic needs for internal communication is a key challenge – and requirement – for the Internal Comms team.

3. Digital channels are great to have in your channel strategy, but they are not suitable for everything – being clear on what you want people to know, feel and/or do as a result of communication helps you to select the most effective channel(s) for the job.

4. Choosing the most appropriate things to measure can help build a case for investment in internal communication. Remember that data can tell you what people are thinking, feeling and doing, but it can’t tell you why – so include quotes from people you spoke to bring your data to life.

5. With internal communicators increasingly becoming curators rather than creators, it’s ok to let people create their own content and then empower them to deliver it themselves – we don’t need to do it all for them.

6. Really listening to what people are saying – through specific research such as surveys and focus groups, as well as observing topics that come up in day to day interactions – is key to an ongoing, effective, strategic approach to internal communication.

7. When you run focus groups to gain audience insight to inform your strategy, focus on asking people about the things they need from communication; what they want is good to know, but you can’t always influence that.

8. Finding ways for people to feel part of your organisation’s story is key to them feeling empowered and acting as ambassadors – this goes beyond simply understanding the story to seeing themselves in it and wanting to tell it as their story.

9. Look at the amount of time your Internal Comms team spends doing things for others, enabling others to do things for themselves and influencing others to want to communicate effectively; spending more time on the latter two gives you a strategic approach that delivers more for your organisation.

10. A monthly plan of themes or topics can be a great way to make sure that your content is focussed and your audience isn’t getting confused by too much noise.

The Sarah Browning quick checklist reminder of what to include in your internal communication strategy:

  • What is internal communication at your organisation for? For example, is it to empower your people as ambassadors, provide them with the info they need to do their jobs, break down silos, make them feel part of something… I could go on, but you get the idea.
  • Who are you communicating with? What do you know about them? What do they need and want from communication?
  • What are your key messages?
  • What channels can you use and how will they work together to achieve your objectives with your audience? Mapping them can show you where there are gaps or duplication and give you ideas for what to start, stop, continue or shift.
  • How will you measure what you are doing? Which measures can you choose that are meaningful?

If you need help in developing an internal communication strategy for your organisation, get in touch for a no obligation chat about what you’re looking for and how I can help.

Until next time

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