Infographic: The Ultimate Guide To Internal Communications Strategy

November 14, 2017by Shona LepisLeadership and StrategyInternal Communications

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Measurement and Strategy are the biggest Challenges for IC

They were the two subjects that really jumped out of a recent Inside IC Global Survey last year conducted by our friends at Poppulo. “We expected measurement to be an issue, a consistently stubborn problem, for internal communicators because it always has been. However, now more than ever it’s an absolutely critical element of any effective communicators job.”

The results of Poppulo’s survey show. On the positive side, that over 95% of the 700+ IC professionals from around the world agreed that measuring their activity was important, but rather alarmingly, more than half admitted it was the activity they “spent the least time on each week”. Tellingly, two out of three said they felt communications are “difficult to measure.” Be sure to checkout out Poppulo’s The Ultimate Guide to Measuring Internal Communications.

Internal Communications Strategy

Successful companies share one common trait, they spend a lot of time and energy making and executing plans to ensure they continue to flourish. Yet, when it comes to internal communications there rarely is a strategy. In fact, Poppulo’s Global Survey showed that ‘only one in three internal communications departments (35%) has a long-term strategy in place for internal communications”. This, regrettably, is in line with other international research. The one-in-three ratio is even more alarming as even in the minority of cases where strategies do exist it’s reasonable to assume that not all are as good as they should be.

This is the backdrop to our decision to partner with Poppulo to publish The Ultimate Guide to Internal Communications Strategy whitepaper. Additionally, the accompanying infographic has been extracted from the strategy whitepaper.

Develop and Deploy an Effective Internal Communications Strategy with our Step-by-step Guide

Our goal is to present a clear, step-by-step path to help leaders, internal communications and HR practitioners develop and deploy effective internal communications strategies. And our goal is to guide internal communicators to uncover their vision, build a strategy and create an employee experience that they can be proud of.

To coincide with the publication of the whitepaper Poppulo also published two strategy-related blogs by highly respected internal comms professionals, Sharon O’Dea on auditing communications and Katie Marlow on measurement.

The Difference Between Strategy and Tactics is Key

One of the first things we address in the Introduction to the guide is the frequently misunderstood difference between strategy and tactics. As we point out: “The first order of business in developing an internal communications strategy is to clearly define what it is not.

A strategy is a carefully chosen plan that is created to bring about a future state of operations.
Tactics, on the other hand, are the actual means used to achieve the goals defined in the strategy.”

Tactics are Most Effective when Aligned with an Overall Strategy

“The confusion between the two is a common mistake within the internal communications and HR community. In some cases, tactics are applied from other companies or competitors without any consideration as to whether they are an appropriate fit. The essential rule is that tactics are most effective when aligned with an overall strategy.”

Starting with a clear understanding of business goals and objectives is the critical and essential starting point to the creation or development of any communications strategy

The reason d’être of any internal communications strategy must, of course, be to support the organization’s overall strategy and objectives. So, having a clear understanding of these business goals and objectives is the critical and essential starting point to the creation or development of any communications strategy.

When that understanding is achieved, the guide outlines how four pillars can be used to craft a foundational internal communications strategy that wins over leaders and employees alike.

The Four Pillars of an Internal Communication Strategy:

  • Vision: A future state goal (or set of goals) that serves as a guide for this process.
  • Alignment: Synchronizing goals with stakeholders, leadership, and peers throughout the organization.
  • Research & Insights: Validate the vision with well-supported data and insights about your people, culture and employee experience.
  • Creation: Prioritize actions that will shape your strategy and the methods you will use to plan, deliver and achieve your objectives.

In the Research & Insights section, we stress the importance for internal communicators to know as much as possible about their audience, and that includes leaders as well as employees: “It’s essential to know as much as you can about them and their preferences.”

Internal Communications Strategy: Content Auditing

In Poppulo’s guest blog post, Internal Communications Strategy: Content auditing, Sharon O’Dea also stresses the “importance of knowing as much as you can about communication channel preferences. But to know this, you’ve got to find out what channels are working and those that aren’t. Which is why an audit is necessary, and shouldn’t be made a lesser priority to other activity.”

Internal Communications Strategy – How to Measure Effectiveness

Whatever about historical distaste for, or difficulty with, measurement, in her Poppulo guest post, Katie Marlow says it really doesn’t need to be like this. “Measuring how our work is making a difference to business should be part and parcel of our activity, not a time-consuming activity managed as a separate entity.

“What’s more, it gives us credibility in the boardroom, a power to our counsel, and helps us to protect and gain budget to do our work well. But above all, for me, it demonstrates the difference our work makes. Guessing how well we did just doesn’t cut it in modern business.

And as professional communicators we should not be satisfied with a ‘feeling’ that our efforts have made a difference,” she says. Check out her Poppulo guest blog post: Internal Communications Strategy – How to measure effectiveness

Removing guesswork and building a strategy based on measurable, data-driven insights is very much a focus of the Ultimate Guide to Internal Communications Strategy.

Applying modern research, insights and action planning methods will greatly benefit any strategy. By doing this you will better understand your audience, which will enable your internal communications strategy to deliver greater value back to your organization.

Related Links:

Download our Whitepaper:
The Ultimate Guide to Internal Communications Strategy

Sign up for the Webinar:
Thursday, November 30th, 8am PST | 11am EST
Creating and Implementing a Successful Internal Communications Strategy

Need help developing an effective internal communications strategy? We would be delighted to help. Get in touch.

Shona Lepis

Shona is responsible for Vignette’s marketing practice, covering everything from agency brand aesthetics to positioning, managing the agency’s web and social presence, content marketing/blog, and supports business development’s needs. Shona began her career as a designer, managing a boutique design studio that specialized in hand-crafted brand identities for clients in both the US and Europe. She worked with clients to transform their vision into reality with creative solutions from brand identity to custom website design, digital marketing, and print collateral. Shona’s experiences as a creative influences her approach to marketing, using data-driven methodologies to deliver authentic brand experiences. Shona is an active member of the Portland design community and has served on the board as Communications Director of the Portland chapter of AIGA and a founding member of Branding Salon, a consortium of brand, design, development and marketing professionals.