How to Create an Internal Communications Strategy (+ Template)

Internal communications have never been more complicated. You have to cater to a multidimensional enterprise with a varying workforce composition, determine the right mix of tools, tactics, and approaches, and maintain closer insight and visibility than ever before.

All while meeting corporate priorities and overcoming the hurdles of engaging deskless workers. So, what’s the best way to take this on? By creating an internal communications strategy template.

What is an internal communications strategy template?

An internal communications strategy template is an action plan for achieving your goals. It’s a practical reference tool outlining concrete steps for doing so. It’s a multi-purpose document that can be used within your team or shared with other stakeholders. It answers all the questions from why the project is important; who is it for and whom is involved in it; what the approach is; when and where  most energy is required; as well as how to measure your success.

The key components of an effective internal communications strategy

An effective internal communications strategy is streamlined and simple. A basic one details your communication objectives, target audience info, communication methods, and key message points.

It can document other relevant information, such as the budget, available team resources, various work roles, and stakeholders.

Why do you need an internal communications strategy?

You have so much to get done and so much coming at you.

If you’re just winging it or reacting to whatever comes up, it’s time to adopt an internal communications strategy.A strategic comms plan serves as a way to prepare for the organization’s needs, harness your resources, and remain focused on priorities.

Not to mention, this is an invaluable asset for communicating with stakeholders, building a business case for various initiatives, and negotiating a healthy budget.

Are you ready to draw yours up? We’re about to cover what you need to know.

Download our Internal Comms Strategy Template here

How to create an internal communication strategy template?

Creating an internal communications strategy is a straightforward process, even when you’re dealing with a large, complex workforce.

As with any good plan, it starts with figuring out where you want to go.

Step 1. Assess your current situation

Strategic planning begins with a precise understanding of where things stand. For an internal communications strategy, this means looking into various employee engagement, performance, and HR indicators.

If it’s been a while since you’ve done a comprehensive employee engagement survey this is an ideal time.

McKinsey recommends enacting continuous employee listening through weekly pulse surveys. And you can do that fairly easily by plugging Gallup’s Q12+ into an employee engagement solution.

Step 2. Setting goals and objectives for your internal communications strategy 

The next step is defining your goals and determining what’s needed to achieve them.

You might have big-picture goals, like improving deskless employee engagement. Or more targeted objectives, like strengthening a specific business unit’s performance or reducing accidents on after-hours shifts.

Perhaps you need an enhanced engagement and communication platform to help achieve these. Powering up your communications generally requires leveraging technology for a multi-pronged approach.

If you aren’t sure where to get started, Gallup suggests asking two questions.

  1.       “What are the primary reasons we communicate?”
  2.       “Are the primary reasons we communicate aligned with the reason we exist and the key strategies that follow?”

Step 3. Understanding your target audience and their needs

Effective communication depends on knowing exactly who you’re speaking to. For that reason, forming a clear picture of your audience should be the second step in developing your internal communications strategy.

The main things to know are their demographics, roles, needs, and communication habits. Demographic differences, such as generation, education level, and work history, should be accounted for in the communications strategy and its messaging.

Their work roles define their communication needs. And the more you can narrow things down to focus on specific divisions, teams, or units, the better you can meet those needs.

You also have to understand their communication habits. This is critical because there are practical matters to consider when creating an internal communications strategy for deskless workers. Some aren’t working on connected devices and there may be other impediments.

E.g., are there safety or regulatory issues preventing real-time communication? Do they check work-related information once every few hours or once every few days? How long do they spend engaging with corporate messaging? Do they share information with co-workers or are they more reserved?

Step 4. Choosing the right communication channels

Channel choice matters, especially for deskless workers. This is the difference between a message that’s seen right away – or at least within a few hours – versus one that’s ignored, lost for days, or not seen at all.

Let’s put that into context with a familiar scenario.

How do your frontline team members spend their breaks? Are they looking up company news or checking their email for supervisor messages?

One or two might, but it’s not the norm. 

Now the chances of them being on their phone at some point are much higher. This gives you the opportunity to grab their attention through a push notification – making a mobile-friendly app a far more effective communication channel than regular email.

So, look over your audience, who they are, how they live, what they need from you, and what you want to communicate. Then choose the channels that align.

Step 5. Crafting your internal communications message

We’re finally at the heart of your internal communications strategy. The messaging itself. At this point, you should have enough clarity on your audience and their needs to create empathetic, impactful communications.

This is what separates basic information delivery from messaging that resonates, builds culture, and drives positive business outcomes.

Personalize as much as possible and tailor the language to the audience, their demographics, and preferred channel. Keep things brief, splash in some images, frame your messaging around their interests, then optimize your sending schedule.

By the way, you can shortcut this process while ramping up efficacy, by using AI to create more powerful internal communications messages.

Step 6. Implementing your internal communications strategy then measure its effectiveness

Your objectives, audience, channels, and message points form the core of the internal communications strategy. Got those down? Great, time to move forward.

You’re now ready to put things into action – and then measure the impact to gauge your success. 

Carry this out by running your internal communications strategy through an employee engagement platform that supports multi-channel communications, user segmentation, and analytics.

Measure both organizational KPIs (particularly those related to your goals) and engagement-related metrics. Here are some examples:

  • Average retention
  • Attendance
  • Safety
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Work quality and defects
  • Most popular content type
  • Most commented content
  • Average platform session length 
  • Engagement by business unit, team, or region
  • Longest engagement time per content type, region, time of day, etc.

Take baseline KPI measurements before you get started. Then compare things over time. Leverage the insight provided by your internal communications platform to continually improve your outreach. That about wraps things up.