In my previous article "Here's Why Internal Communication Matters", I have shared with you what internal communication is, what the role of an internal communicator is, the importance of ethics, and how it contributes to the overall mission of the company. In this article you will learn about six essential questions you should ask yourself when planning internal communications to make it more efficient and effective.
1. Why do you want to communicate this message?
The most important question in internal communications is: ‘Why do I want to communicate and what do I want to achieve?’ In this sense, you must tie the key messages to the overall mission of the organisation and make sure that every team and employee across the organisation understand the linkage between the two. Messages should be consistent, simple and focused. It is also important to set specific objectives because they will help you measure and evaluate your internal communications efforts.
2. Who is your target audience?
In the next step you should get to know your audience and understand their needs. You have to be clear with whom you want to connect and how to make your messages relevant for them. Segmenting your audiences is important for understanding what outcomes for each audience you want to achieve. You need to understand your audiences, what they already know and what information they would like and need to receive in the future. This will help you tailor your internal communication messages and select suitable channels.
3. What do you want to communicate?
In the third step decide what you want your audiences to engage in, bearing in mind their needs and your desired outcomes. As a communicator you should see through your audience’s eyes and ask yourself ‘What is in it for me?’ and ‘Why should I care?’
4. When do you want to communicate?
Timing is an integral part of good communication, especially when an organisation is going through a difficult or busy phase. A credible and reliable communicator is the one who delivers the message first. However, there are other aspects to consider:
- Are there any other events that could hinder the delivery of the main message?
- Are there any other messages that could compete with the main one?
- What early information can you give out?
5. How will you communicate?
Every company needs a mix of communication channels because of different audiences and their information needs. There are six types of communication channels:
- Push channels deliver a one-way flow of information to the audience, whether they want to receive it or not. Examples include: emails, newsletters, print magazines, intranet news and TV screens.
- Pull channels help the audience find the information they need in a dedicated place. Examples include: Intranet/SharePoint, videos, online news and annual reports.
- Talk channels allow employees to talk and react to information. Examples include: face-to-face meetings, TV channels, discussion boards and ‘Ask the CEO’.
- Community channels help create a sense of belonging to a community or a team. Examples include: team events and social networks.
- Engage channels deliver messages that make employees want to commit. Examples include: awards, online discussions and company blog posts.
- Intelligence channels help employees understand their contribution to the team and the company. Examples include: surveys, online polls and team meetings.
6. How will you track, measure and evaluate internal communication efforts?
The final step is tracking, measuring and evaluating your internal communications. By doing this, you will be able to show your team and senior management what you have achieved and what impact your actions have had on the organisation and its business. This will also help you to better plan your future activities.
Here is a summary of 6 key elements of an internal communications plan to consider:
- Be clear about why you want to communicate
- Understand your audience and their information needs
- Have a clear idea why you want to communicate your message and what outcomes you want to achieve
- Choose the most suitable timing
- Choose a proper channel for each audience
- Track, measure and evaluate your internal communication efforts
Article written by Liudmila Kazak
FitzPatrick, L. and Valskov, K. 2014. Internal Communications. A Manual for Practitioners (PR in Practice). Kogan Page: London.
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Here's Why Internal Communication Matters