A model for internal communication strategy and planning

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Model for internal communication

What model should I use for internal communication?  

It’s a question we get asked a lot – we all love a model or a framework to follow! Particularly when we’re navigating complex waters – as so many leaders and communicators are.

I outline my model in the first chapter of my book, Influential Internal Communication. I’ve used this in every organisation I’ve worked in, where I’ve set up a communications function. Essentially, it’s all about ensuring output is aligned to data.

There are five steps to the model, and it starts with insight. Without data, we can’t make decisions about the right way to communicate. I talk about this in more detail in this blog: What’s the best way to diagnose issues in your organisation?

I created The Field Model on the back of this model for communication strategy and planning:

Insight

Look at any existing research into employee engagement and internal communication, as well as any research with customers or other stakeholders. Run surveys that cover employee effectiveness and engagement, communications audits and/or culture trackers. And explore the use of focus groups, interviews over the phone to verify and explore the data.

This should include:

  • Culture research
  • Perception internally and externally
  • Primary or secondary research.

Business intelligence

Review all the material that exists that talks about the organisation – annual report, case studies, marketing material, etc. Look at the flow of communication across the organisation to understand how the business works – who needs to talk to who and how you provide the services you do to your customers.

This should include:

  • Business process
  • What does the organisation do?
  • IT infrastructure.

Principles

Create a set of guiding principles for the communication function and strategy. This will set out what is needed to resource the activity and whether there needs to be a plan to recruit anyone into the team. The principles should be aligned to the business strategy.

This should include:

  • Function objectives
  • Principles for the organisation
  • Alignment of business strategy and communications strategy.

Communication

This is the creation of the communication strategy. It should include any development needs for the leadership team or line managers and any workshops that might be needed. It will include a content strategy and a channel matrix with a clear plan for the year. The content strategy should map to the organizational strategy, corporate plan or business objectives.

This should include:

  • Channel matrix
  • Audience mapping
  • Content strategy.

Measurement

The principles agreed enable the measurement as there will be clear objectives for success. The insight phase provides the benchmark so improvements can be made. There should also be a measure against business performance and outcomes.

This should include:

  • KPIs for success aligned to principles
  • Culture of active listening
  • Agreed timescales.

I’d also recommend using this model alongside an analysis of your internal stakeholders. This is often complex, and I talk about How to manage stakeholders in this blog, where I share some other models to help you map your stakeholders.

Following the steps in our model for internal communication is a great way of ensuring your communication is aligned to your organisational strategy – these are the fundamentals that will ensure your communication is influential and has a real impact.

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